Monday, April 2, 2012

Latham Family Adventures: The Matryoshka Game

     Some of the Latham Family Adventures did not involve all five of the children actively participating. Such was the case with the Matryoshka Game. Not that the boys wouldn’t have gladly played along, the girls just couldn’t allow it!

        A set of Russian nesting dolls, called Matryoshkas, was given to each girl when she was quite young. The girls loved the bright colors, tiny details, and the way the dolls nested together so perfectly. New sets of Matryoshkas showed up at our house as Christmas and birthday gifts, each unique and beautiful. As the collections grew, so did the idea of the Matryoshka Game. These beauties were not meant to sit on display somewhere! They were meant to come to life!
     The game had two parts. First, was the construction of a world in which the Matryoshkas would live. Our many books provided the basis for the houses. They were stacked at different levels to delineate the rooms and used as stairs and dividers. Colored glass jars and bottles became lamps and furniture. Brightly patterned scarves from the dress-up box provided carpets and draperies. Almost anything could be used to embellish the Matryoshka houses as long as it was colorful and exotic.
     The finished product was huge. It covered the entire floor of a good-sized bedroom. And it took hours to complete. Each doll family needed its own house which included cradles for the tiny ones and bedrooms for all the others. As the girls set up the houses, they were also developing scenarios for the various families. This is when part two of the game began.
     I never knew what went on in the lives of the Matryoshkas, but it must have been interesting. I could hear talking, crying, and laughing coming from the room during the game. The boys begged to come in just to watch from the top bunk bed. The girls took pity and let them in with the requirement that they not interfere with the game. Sometimes they were even granted one set of dolls to share and some odds and ends with which to build their own house in a corner.
     The game usually lasted about three days. At this time the girls would get tired of tip toeing through the room to get to their beds and the houses would start to look a little shabby. The Matryoshka Game only happened once a month or so. After all, it was a huge undertaking and clean-up was equally huge. But every few weeks, I expected to find the little Lathams lost in that world for a while. That happy, busy, beautiful world of Matryoshkas.