You should be advised that Dad U despises and generally ignores the “safety-enforcement” culture of today and advises subjecting kids to as much fun as can be tolerated (by you, with respect to lifting/swinging/dizziness. We all know THEIR tolerance for fun is virtually limitless). That said, if you drop your kid on their head playing this game, it’s your fault (and Dad U accepts no legal blah blah blah…..).
Warning: this game terrifies most Moms, so make sure the first time you try it out they are not around, and then only pull it out in front of them when Jr is begging loudly for an encore (which they will, almost guaranteed). This game is best for 2-5 year olds. Any younger and they tend to freak out at the motion, and any older is just getting too heavy. The game has three versions that I could come up with: “Monkey Swings”, “Monkey Swings Side-to-Side”, and “Monkey Bounces”. If you come up with more versions, or cooler names, I want to hear about it, and, I’m going to insist on being co-inventor on the patent. You should probably start with “Monkey Bounces” as it is probably the easiest way to introduce the key concepts. Place Jr on their back on a bouncy bed or couch. Get them to hold their toes (barefeet, no shoes, although those grippy-sole socks work well), with the soles of their feet now facing you. If you practice your grip, you will be able to (a) place your thumbs just below the balls of their feet, in the arch, (b) your middle fingers on the outside of their hands (which are gripping their toes) and; (c) your index fingers between their feet and hands. You will want to practice your grip and orientation of how they hold their toes. Bounce them up and down on the bed/couch to test. The grip is key, both how you hold them, and how they grip their toes (which is usually "death-grip" tight during the game itself). Try swapping the position of your index and middle finger, which may work better for you.
Here’s how “Monkey Bounces” works:
The chant- this is important, I don’t know why, but they love it. You chant in time with the bouncing (lifting up and bouncing down, keeping hold all the time), easy: “Monkey bounces, up-and-down, up-and-down, up-and-down”, while bouncing them (listen carefully) up-and-down. At this point, the chant shifts to: “Monkey bounces, round-and-round, round-and-round, round-and-round!!!”. During this stage (which is continuous with the previous), you use your grip to spin them to the right (bounce), to the left (bounce), then back again. Once you practice you should be able to achieve more than 180 degree per bounce. Here’s the key: after the last bounce and while emphatically chanting the last “around and around!!!” you give them an extra spin and let go at the top of the lift, aiming for a full 360 rotation. They spin and fall into a hysteric heap on the bed. Note that the game has a defined start and end. ie you are only bouncing in the order of 16 times per run before you get a break. This is the version of the game that I used the most, because the elevated position on the bed made for the easiest lifting and most repetitions before Mom came home. Unfortunately my kiddos have graduated to the “to heavy to play” stage.
“Monkey Swings” is much more fear-inducing, in the gravity sense, which coincidently, is also why they love it. This time, place them on the floor. Pick an area with good clearance in front, and to the ceiling (ED: what????), and behind. Spread you legs and use the same secure grip to pick them up and elevate them a foot off the ground. Now, swing them forward, then back between your legs, then (and this is the point) as high as possible in front of you, while chanting in time with the swings (again, don’t know why this is a big deal, its just the way the game is played, so don’t mess it up): “Monkey swings from tree-to-tree, from tree-to-tree, from tree-to-tree, Monkey swings from tree-to-tree, from tree-to-tree, from tree-to-treeeeee!!!!!”. You had better have practiced your grip before playing this version* (and Dad U does not accept blah blah blah). For a final flourish, Monkey Swings finishes after the final “tree-to-tree” by letting go at the top of the upswing and catching them on their return Earthward. You may wish to be paying particular attention during that step. Obviously, it’s also somewhat important not to drop your torso below the level of the 1 ft clearance. Also, swinging them past the point where their head is vertically above their feet is not a good idea, as you tend to lose control of their point of balance. Which is why practicing the grip could be important, and in this particular case, not something to learn the hard way.
“Monkey Swings Side-to-Side” is the least used version of the game because it strains your back the most. But it offers a great opportunity for the “release”. This time the chant is: ”Monkey swings side-to-side, side-to-side… “ (ED: we get it.). You swing them back and forth in front of you, releasing them on the final swing and catching.
*No actual kids have been dropped on their heads playing these games
-favors temporary induction of gravity-terror