Some of the More Innocent Games I Play with My 3 Year-Old


Butterbean pretending to be a “spaceman” at Nanny’s house.
(That box on her head is her “space hat”)

I love that my daughter has an active imagination and the energy of ten preschoolers combined (actually, I could do with a little less energy), but it means that we play pretend A LOT. I’m not particularly fond of – or good at – imaginative play, so sometimes I make up games for the sole purpose of amusing myself, or to keep from spinning around the house with my kid like The Tasmanian Devil on speed.

If you’ve read my previous posts about the games we play, you know that we do some effed up stuff around here. It’s not all zombies, monsters, and toe-eating crocodiles, though. Sometimes, we play games that won’t result in years of therapy. Here are a few examples:

The Forgetful Waitress – Butterbean’s stuffed dog, Lilly (puppeteered by yours truly), is a waitress in a restaurant and the Bean and I are the customers. We order food (usually ice cream), and ask for sprinkles (or something else that could be a topping – fish sauce or pepper, for example). I make the dog forget the sprinkles and bring the wrong topping about a million times. Each time she has to come back to the “table”, Lilly becomes more clumsy and/or impatient, and I become more and more exasperated. Butterbean thinks this game is HILARIOUS, and I like that we can play it while sitting down.

Not That Way, Legs! – NTWL was an occassional part of our bedtime routine, and I never thought of it as a game, but one day The Bean randomly asked to play “Not That Way, Legs”, so now it’s a thing. I’ll pick up Butterbean (on the way to the bathroom to brush her teeth, for example), but I pretend my legs have a will of their own and I’ll take her into, say, the livingroom, all the while scolding my legs (“Not that way, legs! Where are you going?! Get to the bathroom, legs!”). Then I’ll get half-way to my destination, only to have my legs act up again. Under the right circumstances (i.e. if I’m feeling a little manic), this game is a lot of fun and makes The Bean giggle a lot. Plus, it’s super cute when Butterbean pretends her own legs don’t work and gives them shit.

Red Light Green Light – I think everyone has played this game before, but we added a small twist. Bean and I take turns shouting red light, green light at each other while we’re walking down the street (red, of course, means stop and green means go). If you don’t stop on a red light, the other person automatically becomes the police and “pulls the offender over” while yelling “reee oooh weee ooh ree ooh” (like a siren). The red light runner is then given a ticket and asked to show up in court. I try to play this game only on side streets because it’s a little humiliating when we have to pass other pedestrians (kind of like being pulled over in real life).

Upside Down Bicycle – We both lie on our backs on the Bean’s bed and pump our legs like we’re riding a bike. Then we take turns narrating our drive so we can act it out. “We’re going over some bumps! Watch out for that squirrel! Quick! Slam on your breaks! Screeeetch! Look out! Pot hole!” Upside Down Bicycle is another game I made up because I was lazy one day and didn’t want to play “Baby”, which requires a lot of up and down and fills me with a sense of panic and dread (for Christ’s sake, I don’t want another baby!). USDB is not a game we play often, but it’s definitely one of my favourites.

How do you entertain your preschooler? What kinds of imaginative play do you engage in?


3 thoughts on “Some of the More Innocent Games I Play with My 3 Year-Old

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