Daniel is very interested in dragons and superheroes these days, so we've been letting him watch movies like The Incredibles and How to Train Your Dragon. He played these kinds of roles before we let him watch the movies, but sometimes I wonder whether we're feeding some very violent kinds of play. Today, for instance, he convinced me to partake in a rousing game of Trucks vs. Dragons. First, we had to line everything up like this:
The rules of this game, roughly quoted as he explained them to me are:
"Okay, so the Old Person (referring to me) takes the trucks, and I take the dragons, and they just PUNCH into each other really hard like they're trying to break something, 'cause these are REALLY mean dragons. Oh yeah, and Eva has all the flying things (referring to a plane, a helicopter, and Buzz Lightyear), and they're just going to stay over there and watch."
This was pretty much how the game went down, except that we had to start over a couple of times because I was not driving the trucks fast enough or hitting the dragons hard enough, and because eventually he decided that the dragons were going to pick up the trucks, "fly them in the air," and then drop them in a heap of ruins down the hallway. Here was the carnage at the end of all this:
I have to admit that I got bored pretty fast with the reality of Trucks vs. Dragons, despite my amusement with the name and object of the game. Once the trucks had been thoroughly destroyed, I took a break to make a phone call. In typical kid fashion, Daniel and Eva devolved into a screaming, hitting fight two feet from me the instant I got someone on the line. I finished the call with a lot of "uh-huh's," hoping that I sounded like I was hearing and understanding my end of the conversation. I hung up and very sharply explained that this behavior was not acceptable, and that now the person I was talking to likely has a terrible impression of both me and my rude, rude children.
Daniel then started into what seemed like an unrelated ramble, telling me all about the counselor at his school, and how she came to his class today and told them that sometimes kids have strong feelings, and might need to find something to do to calm down those strong feelings, like jump on a trampoline, or ride bikes, or run around in the yard, or take deep breaths, or sing a song or count to ten... Then he says to me, "Mommy, I see that you're having some strong feelings right now. I'm wondering if you should go jump on a trampoline or ride your bike or something."
Really, as a therapist I had to admire his use of the here and now in our session. I ended up telling him what a good idea that was, and how maybe I could just use a few minutes ALONE to take some deep breaths. Maybe I should have just asked to play another round of Trucks vs. Dragons.