Parenting is, as we all know, exhausting. It’s exhausting in every possible way – looking after a child, you find ways of feeling tired you never knew existed. Your back hurts, sure, and you’ve had no sleep, but there’s also a kind of existential fatigue, a sort of all-encompassing knackeredness, that would almost be amazing – if you had the capacity to feel amazement.
Hillary Frank, author of ‘Weird Parenting Wins’ and host of the podcast The Longest Shortest Time, recently shared a tip that could be a game-changer for all parents in need of a lie down. Next time everything’s a bit much and you want nothing more than to collapse on the floor and let the world pass you by for a while, suggest a game of ‘What’s On My Butt?’
Frank explained the rules on an episode of Fresh Air with Terry Gross on NPR, and credited an anonymous mum for creating them. Think ’Sleeping Lions, only it’s the parents who get to be horizontal.
“When you feel like you just need a break, and your kid feels like they want to play, you lie down facedown on the couch. And you tell your kid to go find some random object around the house, put it on your butt and you have to guess what it is,” said Frank. “I play this with my daughter and it allows me to refuel.”
Asked if she could ever guess what was actually on her butt, Frank replied: “No, it’s impossible to guess right.”
Now this is ingenious. As long as you get Junior to put it all back afterwards, you’ve got yourself a lie down. Not only a lie down, but a gamified lie down with, and because it’s a game about bottoms, there’s scope for endless hilarity.
“Is it a teddy bear?” you say, clenching your buttocks to make whatever is perched on them move, causing paroxysms of laughter. Stuff resting on a bum is funny, stuff falling off a bum is funny, and as long as your little one doesn’t decide to go for options like cacti, bottles of chilli sauce with barely-on lids or extremely hot irons, everyone’s a winner.
It’s also a game you can genuinely try your best at and still find difficult. Perfect if you have a competitive streak that means you die a little inside every time you allow the slowest-kicked ball in the world to trundle past you, or struggle not to grab the jigsaw pieces – all nine of them – and complete the puzzle in a heartbeat while your child is still working out what’s going on.
Identifying things using just your buttocks is a skill nobody has, so you can do your best and still be child-pleasingly, time-consumingly crap at it. Brilliant!
The dream of inventing a game called ‘Fetch Daddy Some Crisps And A Lager, Sit Quietly While He Consumes Them And Nods Off, Then Remain Silent And Safe Until He Feels Better’, still eludes us, but until an intellectual powerhouse figures out the rules to that one, ‘What’s On My Butt?’ is a pretty great backup.