My retreats are more than a balm; in fact, they embolden her to demand my reengagement: "Toesies!" she demands as she wiggles the objects in question. This requires we repeat the game.
If I happen to be sitting next to her (which, I'm happy to report, happens quite often), the game has evolved into a new species. At first it was:
Me: "I'm gonna get'm!"
Isabel: "NOOOO!" followed by a scrunching of toes into her feet.
We interrupt this blog post for a Muppet News Flash!
Dateline: Mt. Laurel, NJ --
A hot-air balloon just lazily passed the office where I'm working; vertically striped orange and indigo, it couldn't have been more than 1,000 ft above ground.
... I wonder if they pick up hitchhikers?
But, nowadays, to minimize the risk of foot cramping, I've explained to the little one that I wouldn't actually take her toes away from her, as they're stuck onto her feet.
Me: "See?" as I gently pull on a toe, demonstrating that it doesn't come off.
Isabel: "It's stuck!", said with wonder.
Isabel: "... try to pull off the other ones!"
So we repeat the game for each toe, as I very gently "try" to obtain a toe for myself, and at each attempt, she explains that I cannot take her toe:
Isabel: "It's stuck! *smirks*"
However, she's a delicate one! We'd be playing "monsters" or "giants" or "toesies" or "catch-me-papa", and if there's a bit too much excitement the pretend emotions become real, uncontrollable, ones. We, Elena Marie, Isabel and myself, were playing "catch-me-papa", which is a game where we run up and down the hallway, sliding into home-base (the fireplace -- hardwood floors with gym socks make for some good, long, slides) or leaping onto the big-bed ... don't ask how Diane tolerates this game, because I just don't know. Well, I uttered my battle-cry/warning to start the game off: "I'm comin' for youooouuoooouuuoouoouu!" Elena Marie screamed with excitement and ran off, but the scream frightened Isabel so much that she slumped to the floor, crying.
Oops! Game over, and new rule: "No screaming". Recovery time consisted of consolation hugs, calming, soothing reassurances, and, it now being late, time for their favorite, favorite, activity: Papa reading bedtime stories.