SECRET CHILDHOOD TRAINING: A list of games with stealthy provisions for parenting

SECRET CHILDHOOD TRAINING: A list of games with stealthy provisions for parenting


Today, in the late afternoon terror hour, I had a flash back to the first time I had to console my two very upset children in the middle of the night. One needed patting (after being fed) and the other needed rubbing (to be consoled after a night mare) and I had an epiphany: This is why I learned to rub my tummy and pat my head at the same time as a child. This is why. (And I had always wondered what the point of that game was, really, and why you couldn’t just pat your tummy too…?)

Some games in childhood have echoes that we could never have predicted.

Here is a list of childhood ‘games’ paired with the real training that we got when we were playing them.

Games we Played (with secret provisions for parenting)

Sack races – This game taught you the basic and essential training for trying to leave your child in the care of someone else when they don’t want you to go. The hopping method is useful for manoeuvring with a toddler wrapped around your legs.

Pick Up Sticks – This game teaches you how the indispensable skill of carefully extracting a toy or book from a sleeping child without moving anything else and thus keeping them asleep.

Tug Of War – It seemed like a game of strength as a child but really it is how to grab something just when the other party releases tension slightly allowing you to take back for yours what has been mistaken as ‘mine’ in toddler speak.

Operation – This thrilling and intense game taught you how to skilfully get something out of a small space without touching the sides using a pair of tweezers attached to a wire. Really what it was teaching you is how get a syringe into a baby’s mouth in order to give them medicine without them tasting it or spitting it out.

Toys in the cart – Wasn’t it always fun to take your toys with you on the back of your trike, in your bike basket or in your cardboard box? This is a field exercise for when you have real live little side-kicks that will need to go with you everywhere. Everywhere.

Piggyback races – Rookie training! You will learn to carry a small person on your hip, over your shoulder, around your neck, attached to your ankles, wrapped around your legs, under your arm, around your little finger and across your chest and all at once.

All my dollies/All my puppies – All children want to play with all the small things all at once scoop them up to see if they can carry them all. This is reverse psychology for when parents have all the small things wanting to be carried by them and for when their arms are simply not big enough.

Cats Cradle – This seemed to be a fun game of patience making knots with string between your fingers. In actual fact you were being trained to have patience in the face of futility and how to gently ease knots out of your child’s hair and untie knots/undo messes in general without losing the plot.

SNAP – This was always a fun game that involved simple recognition of matching symbols. This is played as parents when we recognise parts of our other half’s bad traits coming to the fore in the little mirrors that are out children. Instead of slapping the pile of cards, we slap our partner. “He got that from you!” (Not really, but mentally, you know.)

CLUEDO – It seems like a fun mystery/problem solving game. The reality of this game is that you are taught to be accusatory and really want to know whodunit. Who left the dirty nappy on the floor? Who left the bath water in? Who left the fridge open? Who ate the last ginger nut? (I suggest it was Mrs. Peacock, in the Dining Room, with the Candlestick ??).

Snakes and ladders – This is advanced mental training for expecting and coping with ‘snake days’. On days like these you feel like all your progress (with sleep training/potty training/napping/eating for example) goes quickly downhill.

Connect Four – Similar to the training received in Snakes and Ladders, in this game you realise that trying to establish a routine or pattern in life will quickly be upset by some small person removing a whole row of little coins or pulling the rug out from under your feet as it were.

What’s the time Mr. Wolf? – This game teaches strategy for teaching awareness of the time and how the ‘wolf’ can dictate nap times. Every parent, at some stage at least, has to admit that there is a certain count-down going on till nap time or bed time. Go on. Admit it.

Murder in the dark – This game, by far the scariest, rehearses the skill of sneaking around in the dark without anyone knowing you are there. This is vital for sneaking into the kids’ room to check on them, for being Santa and for pretending you are not there when they are awake and looking at you in the middle of the night when they are supposed to be asleep.

Blind man’s buff – This is the game of all games in parenting stratagem because, let’s face it, none of us really know what we are doing. Right?


Love Outie

Fun stuff for fun parents

Image credit: c/-

P.S. We have a new SNUGGLE SHRUG in our range now. It’s new and exciting and you should check it outie.



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