Spy Games III

Or impromptu games for kids while you're shopping for a suit, car, furniture or other excruciatingly boring thing

by , posted on October 5th, 2011 in Games & Creative Play, Parenting

Do you remember as a kid going shopping with your parents for something painfully boring like a car or furniture? There was never anything to do and you got in trouble for running around like loons, bouncing on furniture, and causing general mischief and mayhem.

When I was a kid, I have this vivid memory of the family going suit shopping with my father. He had gotten a new job. Naturally, this event called for a new suit. So my mom and dad packed up the four of us kids and drove 30 minutes to a town that had a suit shop. After what felt like an eternity, my dad walked out with a brown suit and a sports jacket with hideously-wide baby blue gingham stripes. That jacket was so ugly, my mom wouldn’t let him wear it. In fact, it sat in the back of his closet covered in plastic wrap for years. It was like it came with its own hazmat suit to protect us from it. The jacket would never see the light of day. It became the stuff of family folklore, like the time my dad set off fireworks under a tree. But that’s a story for another day.

A couple weeks ago, the kids and I went suit shopping with Dave. And this time, I was the one yelling at the kids: Stop running around. Stop squabbling. Do not crawl on the floor. Put down those straight pins. They’re not toys. Do you know what’ll feel like to get a pin stuck straight into your knee? No? Well, let me tell you, it’ll hurt. And don’t pick them up. The floor is filthy! Do you know how many people walk on this floor every day?

It was exhausting. We needed to shift strategies because I could not go on like this.

So I called the kids over and told them I was recruiting them for spy school. They’d need to first learn the ways of an operative—quiet, stealth and how to blend.

To develop their stealthy surveillance skills, I told them they had to monitor me while I picked up three objects. Then they had to use their memory to recall the three items I picked up. After that, I asked them if they could tell who I was shopping for based on the items. Sadly, this only lasted one round because we were in the men’s department. There were pretty limited resources.

Next, I gave them a mission. After rooting around in my bag for slip of paper, I wrote down a secret message*, folded it up and told them I was going to make a dead drop. They had to find where I hid it using surveillance techniques. They could hide behind racks, but it would be far too suspicious if they hid inbetween racks. Frankly, I just wanted to keep them out of the racks altogether. I didn’t need the squirrely eye from staff.

Then I handed everything over to the kids so I could deliver my critique of suit choices. They took turns hiding the note and searching for it. I reminded them that good spies were quiet and went largely undetected.

And I have to say, it worked for a good 15-20 minutes. It was bliss. We walked away without a suit, but my sanity preserved. I’d say it was a win-win for everyone.

*You want to know what I wrote? SECRET. That’s it. At that point, I was far too exhausted to put further effort into it.

Looking for more spy games? Check out these posts:

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2 Responses to “Spy Games III”

  1. Stephanie @DialMforMinky Says:

    October 5th, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    that is awesome and oh so brilliant!

  2. Heather Says:

    October 5th, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    Oh, I LOVE this idea. Need to think of how to adapt it to the toddler age range. Would have kept my sanity at Pier One earlier today…

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