Inevitably almost, their reality spawned a game they liked to call Babu Ahtah (the Dad game), which consisted of one of them playing the dad and the others trying to play without waking him, but ended with the "dad" waking up and beating them all up to loud, playacting yelps.
And unfailingly (and somewhat hilariously) meta is the way my mom says that most of these games were so noisy that their dad--their real dad--would wake up to thrash them. Really thrash them.
Li'l A loves to hear that story, now that he's not so freaked out by that little detail about kids getting beaten as he used to be when he first heard it. And I think about my mom and her sibs all of whom in that particular time and and in that particular milieu expected to get beaten for bad behavior. And I choke on the extra love that comes from thinking of my amma as a vulnerable child and knowing how, when she became a young mom, that sad cycle of abuse was broken.