Tunnels and Slippers

“Dad! Shall we play tunnels and slippers?”

If you spend much time in our house, chances are you’ll hear Jacob, our 3-year-old, ask me that question. It might sound a bit mysterious, but in 3-year-old logic, it totally works.

One day, Jacob and I accidentally invented “tunnels”. I would sit on the couch, the footstool a foot or two away, with my legs on it. Jacob started crawling underneath the resulting “tunnel”, then got excited about crawling on top of it, crashing down off of it, or slowly sliding down. Sometimes I would take one leg off, and he would “fix” the tunnel. Afterwards, he’d excitedly tell me, “Dad! I fixed the tunnel all by myself!”

This being winter, I usually wear slippers around the house to keep my feet warm. Jacob steadfastly refuses to wear anything but bare feet, maintaining his feet are warm when asked.

One day while we were playing tunnels, Jacob started trying to steal my slipper. I defended it by using my other foot to tickle him. He eventually got it, much to his delight. Then he’d try to get the other slipper. If you were to listen to a CD of this, you’d hear a frenzy of cackling, laughter from both of us, and eventual shrieks of delight as he steals the second slipper.

At this point, what’s a 3-year-old to do with two ill-gotten slippers? Why, put them on and try to run off with them, of course! So Jacob puts them on, and if I am too slow trying to recover them, will helpfully prompt me with “Shall you get the slippers back?” When I stand up, he’ll shriek, and waddle off at top speed — which isn’t that fast, considering he’s wearing slippers that won’t fit his feet for another 15 years.

Eventually I will make a big show of having very cold feet and wanting my slippers back. He will laugh in delight, and continue trying to escape. Eventually I’ll catch him, lift him up high, and shake his legs until the slippers fall off. Then it’s a mad dash to see which one of us will get them back on first. If I do, then it’s back to the couch for more tunnels and slippers.

So there you have it: tunnels and slippers.

Interestingly, I asked Jacob the other day if he wanted to wear HIS slippers. He predictably said no. I pointed out that if he wears his, he’d be just like me. He said, “Here they are. Shall you help me put them on?” I did. He walked around proudly. I asked him if his feet were warm. Yes, they were, he said. “So you won’t need to steal my slippers anymore?” A brief look of panic crept across his face! I felt bad, until he replied with, “No, my feet still VERY VERY cold, dad! Shall we play tunnels and slippers right now?”

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