Ben loves, more than just about anything at the moment, to be chased around the house.
Like most things in his life, it's become something of a ritual that follows certain important patterns and rules. We have to chase him in a certain way, in a certain direction, saying certain things. He laughs and giggles and squeals as if each time it is the very first time it's ever happened.
The chasing ritual, like many of the other rituals, has transformed gradually over time to include new twists such that every month or so it's become almost entirely new.
The pattern stabilizes for awhile and then transforms again until we've almost forgotten how we used to do it. It just is.
The current twist on the chase is that Ben demands to be chased and then taken to jail. I suspect that kids at school sometimes pretend to put each other in jail and he's picked it up there. The fact that he might be picking up imaginative play narratives from other kids is staggeringly encouraging.
So, jail is his bed, and as soon as Chris puts him there and - clang! - locks the imaginary door, Ben gets up and - screeeeetch! - opens the door and escapes, running out of the room laughing.
At some point, Chris added improvised Old West dialogue referring to Ben as a "mangy varmint" and shouting things like "dagnabbit!" and "great horny toads!" at points. Quickly the Sheriff Daddy routine became a critical part of the ritual.
"Will you be Sheriff Daddy and take me into jail?" Ben started to request each night.
Just for variety's sake, Chris then started doing it with a British accent, claiming to be, "Inspector Daddy of Scotland Yard" shouting, "Great Scott!" and referring to Ben as a scoundrel and a roustabout.
Ben now directs Chris to alternate the roles of Sheriff Daddy and Inspector Daddy, each time eluding their grasp until finally he is taken to jail, from which he quickly escapes. And it starts all over again. And again. And again.
But luckily the law is persistent, and good at accents, has enough energy to indulge a little boy's quirky antics every night.
Thank you, Sheriff.