College basketball is reaching a fever pitch. It's madness they say. To maintain sanity at home, I'd like to share some family secrets of household togetherness. The title of this article might lead you to believe I'm trying to dismiss the children. Quite the contrary, I'm offering a way to be the best parent possible even when you might otherwise be distracted. In other words, I believe I'm about to offer you something that harsh world of competitive sports rarely does: a win/win.
Thanks to the endless energy of my three children, here are some games that sports enthusiasts can play with their children without ever leaving the game viewing area.
None Shall Pass
For this one credit goes to my brother-in-law, Paul, who casually demonstrated its value before I had children and before I could fully realize its sheer brilliance. Simply sit at the edge of a couch near a narrow thoroughfare. When the children try to walk through, you drop your arm and say, "None Shall Pass." From here they can wrestle your arm or get tickled or come up with a magic word. All of this can be done without even setting down your beer (which should be in your other hand.)
King Kong Paper Airplane
Show your kids how to make a proper paper airplane. And then, while still facing the television, have them throw the airplanes at you while you bat them down. Grunting gorilla noises are optional, but it does add to the overall sports environment.
Note: Use your favorite search engine to find "how to fold the world record paper airplane." This is an excellent pregame activity. Calm your nerves and follow the steps; these babies fly forever (potentially leading the children to forget about you altogether.)
Whilst sitting with your legs crossed so that they make a triangle, pretend to "flush" your children through the aperture. Kids love this. Sometimes they get stuck or require a "plunger" to latch onto their head, but eventually they slide through. Flushing noise is optional but you'll find yourself making it anyway. This is my least favorite game of least amount of effort because it requires the most of the least amount of effort.
Note: Probably awkward for larger people and teens.
Another note: If you have multiple children, they can take turns operating your arm as a giant flusher.
This classic is a kid favorite. You've probably done this before, but you lean back into a child (usually shrieking with anticipation) and pretend there's something wrong with the couch. Then you grab and cajole the sofa's aberration (child) in an effort to make your seat more comfortable.
Note: Three reps per kid are usually sufficient.
When you Least Expect it
This is a versatile little game where you can lapse into hours of quality televised sports. What you do is "zap" the kids with quick tickle blasts. They'll like this and request more, but you reply, "When You Least Expect It." With our attention spans being what they are, both you and the children will be surprised when it happens.
You're probably on the road to regret with queso and beer mixing like some kind of intestinal Molotov in your aging body. You can turn this around by fashioning your eager children into a living room workout set. The most popular with my kids is the bench press. Granted, I'm a talking about 40-pound humans, but lifting the kids in any direction without breaking yourself is win for everyone. Which means if your team doesn't prevail, at least you did. Now go out and kick some stereotypes. The game is engrossing, but happy kids even more so.
Honorable mention: Scavenger hunt for their shoes, sitting on dad while he makes horse noises, sitting on dad while he makes train noises, sitting on dad while he makes dragon noises and/or sending them off anywhere with flashlights.