Saturday, May 26, 2007

Daddy's Clues®

It wasn't that many years ago that the Woodyettes were into Blue's Clues, but big time. They watched every show. They were scandalized when Steve left the show and Joe took over. They were a little bummed that Blue's Room never really went anywhere. They kind of liked the notion that Blue could turn into a puppet and talk.

Mommy and Daddy were fond of the notion that the girls were learning critical thinking skills that they actually applied to everyday life. They loved taking the wind out of our sails whenever Mommy and Daddy would try to talk in code and the girls could actually guess what we were talking about and then giggle uproariously when Mommy and Daddy would look crestfallen and say things like, "You weren't supposed to figure that out!"

So it came as a huge thrill to my daughters (Jelly first) that Daddy one day came up with a game of "Daddy's Clues" for them to play. I'd only done it a few times, primarily because it's actually hard work — coming up with all those clues and stuff. Also, instead of a paw print, I had to draw a little caricature of myself that the girls could easily identify as Daddy's Clues that were then placed strategically around the house. Usually the clues led up to something that Daddy and the girls could do together, such as having a play date at the park.

Of late, the Jelly Woodyette had been sighing wistfully that she really really missed playing Daddy's Clues, followed by more sighs and heavy shoulder lifts. Mrs. Woody, of course, picked up on this line of thought immediately. "Bud," she said. "The girls really really miss playing Daddy's Clues."

Yeah, Honey, I heard that.

"Really, really, really," she emphasized.

Oh, um, of course. Guess I'd better do something about that.

Then a golden opportunity presented itself that was just too good to pass up. May is a busy month for the Woodys. We have Mothers Day, of course. But this is followed in short order by our wedding anniversary and (a few SHORT days later) the anniversary of Mrs. Woody's natal day. ("Daddy? What's a 'natal?'" "Dunno, Honey... I think it's some sort of military organization in Europe somewhere.")

Anyway, I thought it might be really fun to take the family someplace that Mrs. Woody and I had been discussing to celebrate her birthday, and for which the Woodyettes are just about the perfect age now. Plus, I could make up a Daddy's Clues game to make them guess where we were going.

So, yesterday after work I took our incredibly cheap video cam (one of those $100 all-in-one jobs that takes grainy, out of synch video, crummy photos, and tinny-sounding audio) into our bathroom, which is the only room in the house where I can expect a modicum of privacy. I donned my shades and goofy-looking retired fogey hat and turned myself into the geek equivalent of Q. I shot five short videos which I then burned onto separate DVDs. The first one was addressed to "Special Agents Jelly & Doodle."

Mrs. Woody watched me put all this together and started getting excited in anticipation of how much fun the girls would have.

The idea was to record four hints that would each solve to part of the name of our intended destination. Most of them I just made up (although I did write a brief script for my videos... I didn't trust myself to be completely extemporaneous), but I did borrow one directly from "Harry Potter," just for effect. I even sang a Primary song with an incorrect word that the girls were instructed to correct. The videos also gave hints as to where the next clue was hidden. In other words, as Mrs. Woody put it later, "Daddy's Clues, ver. 2.0."

The girls loved it. As soon as they saw the first DVD they began jumping up and down. In fact, they had so much fun watching the videos, they had a hard time paying attention to the actual clues. Fortunately, DVDs can be rewound and played over, and that's exactly what we had to do — several times, in some cases — for each clue. Then they would race, excited, to the site of the clue and look for the next installment.

It turned out that the girls both found and solved equal numbers of clues and hiding places. Doodle imploded a bit when it came time to rearrange the solved pieces of the word, but Jelly got it right away. We finally coaxed Doodle through the solving process, and then watched her little jaw drop as she realized that in a few SHORT days, we will be taking Mommy to Disneyland™®©. [Begin endless looping of "When You Wish Upon a Star" in your brain now]

Mommy had me document the entire process with our much-better-near-professional-quality camera, and the girls had a tremendous time. So did Mommy and Daddy, come to that.

I'm sure we'll have a wonderful time later this coming week, too.

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