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Bowling For Broke

When you’re unemployed and stuck
inside on a string of rainy summer days, desperation gives way to
inspiration –

A few weeks ago I noticed Maddie was having fun with a
“new” toy in the church nursery: a bowling set.
Consisting of several pins and a bowling ball, the toy was set up
by a fellow parent; he was gravely instructing his daughter on the
finer points of “knocking ‘em down” and
graciously expanded his tutelage to include Maddie. She was
fascinated by the concept of knocking things over with a
ball; at home we strove to avoid that. I noticed Maddie was drawn
to the toy several Sundays in a row.

So I cast my mind’s eye around our
household, attempting to replicate the game for, you know, no
money. I spied a few water bottles and the idea was hatched. Not
wanting to buy more water bottles – which would defeat the
purpose – I engaged my friend Ingrid in the plan, asking her
to save hers as well. When I had a collection of six, all cleaned
and dried, I set them aside and waited.

For what, you might ask? Listen – if you asked that,
you’re not a mom. Every mom knows what I was waiting for
– that moment when the kid turns to you and says,
“I’m bored!” and you draw a blank.

That moment didn’t quite come, but the bottles still came in
handy: Brian was on Daughter Duty as I attempted to pay bills and I
could see the desperation in his eyes. “Hey!” I
intervened excitedly. “Do you want to do something REALLY FUN

My hyped-up daughter, pupils dilated from Too Much Daddy, nodded

“Ok! Go get your crayons and stickers and put all your toys
away to make room to be creative!”

I set out colored plumbing tape, stick-on name tags to be colored
in, and an assortment of stickers, and left them with the
instructions to decorate each of the “bowling pins”.
After that fun was exhausted, Brian set the pins up in a nice
triangle at the end of the hallway and handed Maddie a (soft) ball.

The end result? Total happy chaos. She still hasn’t quite
gotten the hang of the “bowling” thing; Maddie has much
more fun throwing the ball at the pins to knock them down. But she
screams with delight, especially enjoying watching Daddy scramble
to set the pins back up. And she loves running up and down the
hall, toying with you – when will she throw the ball? Up
close? Far away? The suspense is killing me! After many exhausting
minutes of this, Maddie will move on, carefully putting the
“pins” back in their bag for next time. I’m
telling you, best zero dollars I ever spent.

The session usually deteriorates into a game of “soccer
bowling”; Maddie’s quite good at kicking the ball and
will put the ball on the ground and kick it ferociously at the
pins. She recently attended a friend’s birthday party where
she saw a soccer net for the first time and was enchanted with the
idea of kicking the ball into something, since at the park we
simply kick the ball around between us. I can see how much she
enjoys having something to aim at, a specific destination to strive

Hmm . . . anyone have an extra cardboard box, pair of scissors, old
hair nets, and a staple gun?


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