A Three-Year Old's Office

Oliver, you’re three. When you’re older, I hope the lunatics now dumping everything into wars and environmental destruction have left you a livable world. I also hope that the word “office” means something wonderful to you — not because I want you to be devoted to working, or working in a little room, but because I want you to remember.

I work at home, with my office right next to your bedroom. When I work in there all day, you don’t come in, and I don’t pay much attention to being in there either. I’m focused on my work. But when we’re eating dinner, and you finish first, as you always do, you usually start shouting “Office!” and “Play Office!” And your brother Wesley who’s almost 11 joins in, and you guys are pretty loud. And by the word “office” you mean something like “amusement park.”

I’ve long meant to try to catalog the games you play in the office. Some are just you, others with you and Wes, others with all three of us. One of the main ones is wrestling on the futon, which has variations galore, including piling on, making a sandwich, trying to keep someone off, etc. A big one is called “flopping” in which I flop on the futon, then Wes on top of me, then you.

Then there’s racing from the kitchen. You and Wes take turns racing from the kitchen to the futon in the office, with me timing you on my phone. In some variations I throw something in the air that you have to catch before you land on the futon. Other times you just race back and forth across the office.

Sliding in. You put the little mattress from your old crib on the few steps down into the office, and you slide in face-first. Or you and Wes stand the mattress in the doorway and tip it in.

Music. You generally turn on loud music on the CD player in the office, which sometimes means dancing or the limbo or the hokie pokie. Sometimes it’s called “flopping music.”

Jump me in the air. When you say “jump me in the air five times” that means I’m supposed to throw you up and catch you five times and then throw you on the futon.

Spinning. You also like to be held by the arms and spun in a circle until you say “That’s enough!” at which point you’re tossed on the futon. Then you say “I’m dizzy.”

Office games generally involve saying the exact same words each time they’re played. Often they’re the endless repetition of something that just happened. Once I lay on the futon on my stomach. You and Freddy (your toy dog) climbed on my back. I twisted to each side saying “Who’s on my back?” until you fell off. Then I grabbed you and said “What nice dogs!” and you said “I’m not a doooooooog!” Now those are the words we have to say for that game, over and over; and you tell me my lines if I miss them.

The same goes for spinning in the chair, typing on the computer, climbing behind Daddy in the chair and then around in front of me until I flip you onto the futon, as well as for flipping you from side to side over me as I’m lying on my back, and for turning the futon into a boat to travel to a duck pond, or putting the whole box of pennies through the didgeridoo, or for the game where you turn off the lights and I go to sleep and you turn on the lights and I say “Hey, it’s bright,” and you say “It’s morning!”

I played a small part in inventing any of these games, and trying to list them all would be hopeless. But I do hope you remember them, Ollie, and how much your Daddy loves you.

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