Over the holiday weekend, Anna asked Noel if he would play Littlest Pet Shop with her. I could barely contain my laughter.

I am usually the one who gets the “honor” of playing LPS (or Calico Critters, or “school,” or whatever the game du jour is) with her. Noel usually likes to pretend that he’s taking one for the team by playing video games with Carsten, but Anna called him out on the fact that he never plays “pet shop” with her, and that he always video games with Carsten.


So, Noel agreed to play LPS.

The funny thing about Anna wanting anyone to play pet shop with her (or anything else for that matter) is that, she doesn’t really want you to play with her. What she really wants is for you to do her bidding, according to the vision she has of how the game should be played ~ because there is a “right” and a “wrong” way to play with these kinds of toys, you know. It usually works like this:

  • Anna gets the 57,894,039,875 pieces for LPS out.
  • We open up the “shops.”
  • Anna lines them up in the “correct” order.
  • I start putting all the 1,298,346 accessories in the shops where I think they would go.
  • I think that this is a task I’m quite capable of managing.
  • Anna reminds me that I don’t know jack about how to set up the pet shops.
  • Anna stops whatever she is doing to micro-manage what I put where in the Pet Shop, and who gets which pet bed (“Nooooo……that bed is not for the chihuahua; it’s for the guinea pig!! Ugghhh.”), and where, precisely, some bobble-headed cat’s pretend can of tuna should go.

I usually find that things go most smoothly if I just wait for her to start telling me what to do.

For a brief moment before they start playing, I wonder if I should clue Noel in on the Code of Play here, but I don’t. I’m pretty sure it will only take a minute for him to figure it out.

Dad, why are you touching that? You should not be touching that. Stop, OK?

So Noel got down on the floor with her to play, and he just started doing his own thing. He picked up the hamster wheel and, while spinning it like mad, asked her if it was a cheese grater. Then he “drove” some of the pets around like they were on a racetrack, making loud car and brake noises. He had a snail, pulling a wagon, and – Dad, STOP! Snails don’t do that!!! He was pushing buttons, winding things and spinning things, and making the pets “talk.” And every 10 seconds or so, Anna would yell, “DAD!!!” or, “Daaa-aaad” or, “Dad! Uhhhh, you just don’t get it!!”

After about 20 minutes of being beaten at her own game, she decided that she was done playing pet shop.

As for Noel, I think he’s sufficiently off the hook for a while at playing LPS.

And as he headed back downstairs to help Carsten shoot some zombies, I realized he knew more about the “rules” than he let on.