One of the most challenging aspects of being the mother of 3 boys is encouraging the use of their imaginations (over the use of their Nintendo games, for example). They quickly grow bored with any and every thing, and resort to pummeling each other as a form of entertainment.

It’s every mother’s dream, I tell ya – watching her children find new and exciting ways to annoy, harm or otherwise destroy their siblings.

Since I grew up in the country, I spent a great deal of my childhood playing outdoors. And even though our current backyard is roughly the size of a postage stamp, I still try to encourage the boys to play outside, especially when they are getting on each other’s last nerve. Unfortunately, the boys tire of the yard quickly and begin searching for new ways to harm each other.

However, Monday I discovered that they are more creative than I have previously given them credit for. Introducing human bowling:

As you can see, the game consists of one brave soul sitting at the bottom of the driveway and spreading his legs apart. The person taking the turn must stand inside the garage and bowl one of our many soccer balls or basketballs at the person sitting at the bottom of the driveway. (The pictures are kind of grainy but you may be able to see Matthew in the orange shirt in the bottom picture, cringing while waiting for the ball to hit him.)

Yes, they “bowl” as hard as they can at each other. And yes, it hurts to get hit. And yet, they were all 3 laughing and squealing and having a blast!

If the person bowling the ball manages to get the ball in between the legs of the person at the bottom of the driveway, then they have to change places with him. If they miss, they wait for another turn. Which, if you think about it, means that the object of the game is to GET to be the person at the bottom of the driveway, waiting for someone to hit you with a ball! And that is exactly how they crafted it.

I loved it, every minute of those precious 5 minutes that they were playing together without fighting. I thought to myself, “This is what we imagined when they were infants. This is what we’ve been waiting for.”

Sure, the game quickly turned into a shouting match because “SAMUEL DIDN’T WAIT FOR HIS TURN!” and “PETER IS LAUGHING AT ME WHEN I GET HURT!” but, oh, it was so worth it. Just to have that glimmer of hope that one day…one day they might actually be able to play together without fighting.

Oh, who am I kidding? In reality, boys will just find new and interesting – and hopefully, legal – ways to beat each other up. Which is, I suppose, still accomplishing the goal of teaching them to use their imaginations.