Around my house, some variation of “A family that plays together stays together” is bandied about frequently. Of course, the verb changes as needed (some favorites are: farts, reads, washes) but the general refrain remains. I hope it’s true, by the way. I think it is, but I suppose I’ll have to get back to you in about forty years or so. But for now, it seems to be a truism, at least for my family.
And we do play well together. Board games, card games, dominoes, video games…we are a family that often plays. And last night Mister Soandso and I played one of our “oldies but goodies” that began way back in our dating days of college.
It’s fairly ridiculous really. We call it “The Paraplegic Game” and by its name alone you can tell we were neither particularly sensitive nor accurate when we named this game. I apologize for our idiocy at ages 20 and 22. We were obviously more interested in the game than being correct.
Quite simply, the Paraplegic Game entails one person holding absolutely limp and the other person either dressing or undressing him/her. It is terribly difficult for both parties and quickly becomes hysterically funny. (See, this is a truly terrible game that is also a hoot. I don’t know what any of this says about myself…probably that I’m a bad, bad person.)
It’s been years since Mister Soandso and I did this. But last night, as we sat on the couch and surfed Reddit and other internet time-sucks, I told him something along the lines of “Egad I’m tired. How about if you go get my jammies and then dress me and then carry me and my laptop into the kitchen so I can write for a couple of hours?” He laughed.
And then twenty minutes later he showed up with my jammies. The game was on. Within seconds I was laughing even though my ab workout on Tuesday has left me so sore I can barely cough let alone laugh hysterically. But I did. And he did too. Because it is funny watching someone laugh so hard she nearly voids her bladder, right?
Hours later as I was finishing up my writing for the night, I thought about our silly game and how some folks would surely think we are weird for playing such a thing. And yet, now that we have middle aged bodies, we both help each other do tasks much the same all the time. We just don’t giggle over it. Both of us have injured rotator cuffs and at times need help getting sleeves on or off. When I had my feet operated on, Mister Soandso had to help me negotiate my bandaged feet for every pair of panties and shorts for several weeks. When he had back surgery, I helped him…
The list goes on and on. The only difference is how much laughter is shared.
I think most families have funny little games they play with one another that mimic more serious aspects of family life. One friend of mine has a tradition that mysteriously appeared in their family of hiding a potato in each other’s possessions. Nobody remembers how it started but it continues even today…a russet potato able to keep their bedroom doors and conversation lines open.
Mister Soandso and I may have practiced dressing each other back when our joints were supple, but now we know how to help one another. And luckily for us, we have years of practice finding the humor in it.
Because heaven knows that aging bodies and relationships need all the help they can get…whether it is to accomplish a once-simple task or even just staying together.