OK, so I know I’ve complained the odd time about the scramble of our morning routine. Getting two kids ready for school and two adults off to work on time with everyone properly clothed, fed, accessorized and still speaking to each other is a challenge, to say the least. In fact, this morning as I was navigating this particular obstacle course and reflecting on the bizarre array of tasks I had to do and items I had to collect, I was struck by how much the morning routine reminds me of a particularly bizarre kind of fantasy-adventure computer game. Perhaps I can develop and market a game that moms everywhere will be able to beat their kids at.
Back in the day, Jason and I used to play a lot of the original King’s Quest games, and although I’ve never found another game series I enjoyed as much I was interested to note the other day that Christopher was doing something similar on the online game site Runescape, where he was completing various “quests.” If you’ve played these games you know the routine — you wander around the game-world collecting apparently random objects to place in your inventory, each of which will turn out to be useful at some point in the game; you talk to people and creatures you meet who may or may not give you useful information, and you solve a variety of logic puzzles to achieve whatever your goal is.
So I’ve decided to treat the morning routine as a role-playing game. I think I’ll call it MorningQuest. The walkthrough would go something like this:
Enter Cleansing Level and turn on shower. Child1 will knock to be admitted to use Cleansing Level.
Allow Child1 to use Cleansing Level. Continue shower.
After Child1 leaves, allow Child2 to enter and use Cleansing Level. Complete shower.
Wrapping towel around yourself, proceed to Child1 Realm of Sleep. Say: “You should be getting dressed, not back in bed!!!”
Proceed to Child2 Realm of Sleep. Repeat.
Repeat as many times as necessary. At this point in the game you face the danger of becoming stuck in an endless loop. You can break the cycle by yelling, “I AM GOING DOWNSTAIRS TO GET BREAKFAST AND ANYONE WHO ISN’T DOWNSTAIRS WILL LOSE THEIR COMPUTER TIME.”
As you proceed through the BreakfastWorld Level, add the following items to your inventory:
-two lunchbags, packed the previous night
If neither the lunchbags nor the snack contain a fruit item, lose 50 GoodParent points.
You can obtain a rare 75-point HealthPoints bonus at this stage by remembering to take your own lunch. This step is, of course, optional.
Navigate the Swamp of Extreme Crabbiness to avoid the Tantrum Beast. If an encounter is unavoidable, recite the magic incantation. This will remind you that the Tantrum Beast is, in fact, Child2 in disguise and that your love for her is a powerful charm which will shield you both from the worst ravages of the Beast. Bonus points are available for maintaining an even tone of voice while in the presence of the Beast.
Before exiting the BreakfastWorld Level, you must successfully solve the “Not Feeling Well Puzzle.” Given the following information, make an informed and wise decision:
-Child1 utters the phrase “I’m not feeling well” while slumped over bowl of cereal.
-Child2 is recovering from a contagious illness which Child1 may well have caught.
-Child1 looked perfectly fine while playing Runescape 15 minutes ago.
-Child1 is known to loathe school.
-No back-up childcare has been arranged in case of illness.
If you send Child1 to school and he completes the day successfully, you earn 25 bonus points.
If you send Child1 to school and he calls at lunchtime saying, “My teacher said I look sick and I should call my mom,” you lose 1000 GoodParent Points.
If you keep Child1 home, call in sick to work yourself (as you have run out of discretionary days). Lose 1 life and restart game tomorrow.
After exiting BreakfastWorld, repeat the Four Morning Jobs incantation as many times as necessary:
“Get your milk money,
Take your inhaler,
Brush your teeth,
Brush your hair.”
While Child1 and Child2 perform the Four Morning Jobs task, add the following items to your inventory:
-Last night’s homework (be sure to put each item in the correct bookbag)
-A package of cough drops
-A Harry Potter book
-A signed permission slip
After the Four Morning Jobs task is completed, recite the Litany of Winter Dressing six times rapidly: “Snow pants! Boots! Hat! Scarf! Mittens!” Punctuate each repetition of the Litany with the phrase “We’re going to be late!! We’re going to be late!!!” It is normal at this point in gameplay for player’s voice to become slightly higher with each repetition.
Exit the house level accompanied by Child1, Child2, all backpacks and all inventory items. Place all players and inventory items in Chariot of Destiny.
If any of items are missing from your inventory when the Chariot of Destiny leaves your driveway, lose 50 Time Points. If Child1 or Child2 is missing from the Chariot of Destiny, lose 1 life and restart game.
Game is complete when Chariot of Destiny arrives at Portal of Education and Child1 and Child2 are discharged with all inventory items.
Successfully completing the game wins you the chance to do it all over again tomorrow.