A SINGULAR LIFE
By ASHA GILL
Elf Games. Sometimes there is a wonderful moment that happens when television inspires creativity in all its glory. Especially the kind of creativity that absolutely benefits child and guardian.
One Saturday evening we were mooching out the front of the house. Frustration was setting in. The excess energy of the day was not dispelled yet and there was only so much joy a kid could have skidding over damp overgrown grass on his scooter.
I was too tired to go down to the park and was nursing a really bad headache. Harbouring feelings of “I’d rather gouge my eye out with a white hot poker than race around a climbing frame in the broiling hot sun,” I told him to figure something out.
He did me proud by organising the first of many Elf Games, all thanks to a wonderful cartoon called Little Kingdom (also known as Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom).
His “Aha” moment gave birth to a game still loved and adored over a year later. A game that can work with one or with a team of little energetic monkeys. All you need are a few “things” and a lot of imagination. Two ingredients that every household has regardless of space, weather or finances, as long as there are children around of course!
Let’s face it, unless you are an incredible adult, like my mum, who can see the magic in ordinary things, you are going to need the kids to solve the problems for you. Which is actually part of the beauty of the whole game. The kids are in charge, the kids create the game and then the kids reap the benefits themselves. All you need to do is be present in that moment, sit back and enjoy watching unadulterated glee take place in your own home.
However, you need to take the lead first. So this is where the grown-ups come in. The Elf Games are comprised of an obstacle course of wizard-like proportions, a few invisible contenders if your child is flying solo, and a prize at the end of it. Think fairy Olympics mixed up with X-Men and a little dash of survival training.
The “course” can be laid out inside or outside the house. If you are doing it inside, you might need to put away any Ming Dynasty vases you might have lying around. This goes for pets and any grandparents, too, as it tends to get raucous and chaotic. All necessary components of FUN.
So what makes up a good arena? Well, you need areas for:
> Balance. Kids can walk the plank off a pirate ship or tiptoe on a tightrope across the Twin Towers, all you need is a bit of rope, a hosepipe or chalk to draw a line on the ground, imagination takes care of the rest.
> Jump. Jump over, on or in between anything – hula hoops, chalk circles, little stools or plant pots.
> Aim. To collect and throw items that are points-laden into a treasure chest. Empty buckets are perfect.
> Crawl. Cardboard boxes make great tunnels if you remember to open the other end up! Don’t forget doing the limbo is always fun, too.
> Splash. If you have the luxury of being outside, have them wade through a paddling pool with crocodiles in it or make them scoop up a cup of water from one bucket and pour it into a bottle at the end of the course as an offering to the Dragon King.
Now, all you need to do is figure out where “start” begins an d “finish” ends. Get the warriors ready for action and blow the whistle.
This game can go for many rounds. Bonus! At the end, you will have a heaving, sweaty, exhausted but thoroughly sated child. Ready for a shower and a banana split for first prize. All you have to do is sit and be the umpire, grab all those photos and giggle your head off alongside them.
I find that adding the part of the announcer and crowd noises helps spur them along. Try this for starters (in a deep bellowing voice): “Elves, Fairies and Magical Creatures, the Games are about to start. Contenders, step forward and state your name, species and super power.” (Think Mad Max and the Thunderdome.)
Guaranteed delight all around or your money back, folks. Promise.
This isn’t just about having a good time. The different parts that make up the whole of this game are better than a singular exercise class or a run in the park. It’s giving kids a workout of gymnastics, play therapy, creative freedom, spacial awareness and so much more.
This comes courtesy of the Little Man who thought I should share his idea because in his words: “The Elf Games are the best ever, EVER, in the whole world.”
Asha Gill put her globetrotting life on hold to focus on the little man in her life and gain a singular perspective on the world. You can tune in to Asha’s show Eat, Love, Play on Capital FM 88.9, Mondays to Fridays, 10am-1pm. She’s always looking for stories to tell and ideas to share, so send her an e-mail at email@example.com.