Since Sooby was born six years ago today, I have discovered and re-discovered a lot of ways to have fun. But I have to say that, right there at the top of that list, standing head and shoulders above everything else, are the morning games.
Unlike most forms of entertainment, the morning games require no money. They don't require tickets. You don't have to get dressed up; in fact, you don't even have to get out of your nightgown. You don't need to comb tangles out of your hair or brush on mascara to make your eyes look like they are open.
Our best morning games have taken place at Sooby's house. They often transpire not long after daybreak during an overnight visit. On game days I will awaken while the house is still quiet, lie there, and wait. I am never disappointed. It is never long until my fellow player pads up alongside my bed, pulls back the blankets, and snuggles in beside me.
Sometimes she pulls up her nightshirt so I can scratch her back. She may drowse a little longer before starting the first game, or she may launch right into it. I caution her to be "a little bit quiet" so as not to wake up everyone else. The morning games will still be fun when the other players arrive, but right now they are best when it is just Sooby and Googie.
Yesterday was my last opportunity to play the morning games with Sooby as a five-year-old. It was six years ago today that she came screaming into our world, and she still has the volume. She still charms me and amazes me and keeps me pretty well wrapped around her pinkie. She still holds my heart in her pudgy little hand.
The morning games usually grow out of some conversation that eventually arises when both of us realize that neither or us is going to sleep anymore right then. Yesterday, in a conversation about the highlights of her past year, I asked her, "What's the best idea you've had while you were five?"
She thinks hard a couple seconds and then says, "It was an idea I had that I was a real princess." She went on to tell me about the castle and its four inhabitants--Queen Julie ("because she wore a lot of jewelry"); King John; Prince Johnson ("because, of course, he was 'John's son'"); and herself, the princess.
She talks of a lavish ball (Cinderella influence, I'm guessing), at which she dances with all the young fellows in the kingdom while Prince Johnson dances with all the young ladies ("womens" and "mens"). The music playing in the royal ballroom is from The Nutcracker.
We are about to cast ourselves as the princess and Queen Julie in one of our dramatic improvisations, when Bootsie arrives on the scene demanding to be cast as "the baby." Since there is no baby in the castle, Sooby and Boots suddenly become a mother and her baby who are in the hospital.
Our dramatic enterprises demand spontaneity and versatility. Just when I am about to be promoted to queen, I become a lowly nurse who, it seems, has to administer a lot of medicine and shots.
And so it goes for a bit, until Pooh jumps through the door brandishing a scowl and plastic baseball bat, with which he (a "bad guy," of course) engages in some serious bashing and smashing. By now, the morning game has pretty well morphed into chaos, and, in order to save innocent lives (mostly my own), it is time to promote breakfast.
When I left the kids' house yesterday afternoon, Sooby's mama was making a strawberry birthday cake, and Sooby was painting a papier-mached balloon red for a strawberry piñata.
Happy Birthday today, my strawberry girl. It was six years ago today that you made me Googie. I cannot even remember an identity before that. That was many, many morning games ago.