December 6th, 2006



When it's bathtime, the kids usually get about 10 minutes to play because it is also a chance for them to soak the dirt out (more necessary in the summer than now, granted, but still). Then I (or we) come in and help them shampoo and scrub down. A few days ago, when I came in, they were playing a Swedish children's game the purpose of which is to get the other person to laugh. The rules of the game go like this: the person who is doing the provoking asks the other person questions. The provokee can only respond with the phrase "farfars kalsonger" which means "grandpa's underpants."

So, I enter the steamy bathroom, pull up the stool by the side of the tub and grab a washcloth while they are in the middle of this game. Martin is asking questions of Karin: "Who do you like best? Who's your favorite person in class? What's your favorite clothing?" etc. Karin, completely poker-faced, is turned away from him, zooming a couple of rubber goldfish around, robotically answering over and over "farfars kalsonger...farfars kalsonger...farfars kalsonger" to every attempt. Finally, frustrated, Martin gives up. "She's impossible to crack!" he grimaces.

"Let me try you," I say. "What's your favorite smell in the whole world?"

"Farfars kalsonger"

"What's your favorite pizza topping?"

"Farfars kalsonger" (a smile glints)

"What does your girlfriend look best in?"

"Farfars kalsonger"

"What do you love to wear on your head in the morning?"

"Farfars kalsonger" (a snort escapes)

"What do you love to wear on your head even though it's yellow with brown streaks?"

"Farfars kals---EEW, MAMA!"

Martin cracks up. I win!

I remember playing Quaker's Meeting on the hour-long bus ride from Belgium to our school over the border in Maastricht, Holland when I was in junior high. The object then was for you to not laugh or smile and at the same time to get other people to do it. Quaker's meeting has begun, no more laughing no more fun. If you show your teeth or tongue, you must pay a forfeit!

Another game I remember playing at slumber parties with my girlfriends had the same objective: no laughing. You laid down on the floor and a friend would lie down with her head on your stomach. The next friend would lie down with HER head on her stomach and so on, until everyone was lying down. Then the last girl would say HA. The second-to-last person would say HA HA, and each consecutive person would add a HA until someone cracked up. It never took very long. :)


Last year Anders brought back cloth you-do Santa-shaped Advent calendars from one of his business trips to Italy. There is a small stuffed Santa on a string that you move to each consecutive date as the little gift is removed. We wanted something we could fill ourselves because Karin doesn't like chocolate and nearly all store-bought advent calendars contain chocolate. Two years ago we had a Playmobil one and that was really cool, but too damned expensive. Three years ago we had Kinder Egg advent calendars, which were awesome except for the chocolate problem, although Karin was at least mollified that she got a little toy every day. Last year, we filled the pockets with a mixture of candy and tiny plastic dinosaurs. This year we forgot.


For 3 days. Which is how long it took us to get the decorations out of the attic and out of the boxes and scattered haphazardly placed lovingly and tastefully about the house. 3 days! Our children have been deprived! Aieee! I, being the bad and lazy mom that I really am underneath, was all, eh let's just put them quietly back in the box, but Anders was having none of it. So, he went to the toy store after work the next day (DAY 4 OF NO ADVENT GIFTS) and bought 2 Lego Exo-Force transformer robot bionicley-thingys.

Unlike the Legos of MY day, which came in a bucket with YOUR IMAGINATION, these things come with a 36-page step-by-step instruction book. They have stickers! They have a light-up battery pack! They also have Lego guns and Lego swords and various other weapons of mass Legostruction but we'll just quietly sidestep that issue for the moment. So, we each took a Robot and opened the box and all 3 bags of Lego pieces and spread them out over a surface and then we methodically ripped the book apart, page by page, gathering the pieces for each page carefully into 22 separate piles. I ended up with 6 pieces leftover. Anders ended up with 9. we switched tables and I went through his piles page by page and checked the pieces and he did the same for mine. He found places for 2 of my pieces. I finished up his and still had the pile of 9 extras. We were pretty sure that there shouldn't have been ANY leftovers, as leftover pieces are NOT the norm for Lego kits but it was a quarter to midnight by then and I was past giving a rat's ass. So we bagged them up, pile by pile (with the pages folded up and tucked in the baggies) and popped them into the advent calendar pockets.

If that's not advent toy torture, I don't know what is. Heh.