The Game of Life

9 Jun

Fourth grade came to a close for my eldest this past Friday, so please join her bemused parent in a retrospective of the playground games she invented this year with a group of five other girls in the 20 minute excuse for a recess they get only on non-rainy, above-freezing days. I think you’ll agree they used their limited time well. Or at least creatively. And sometimes very oddly, indeed.

The school year began with several weeks of “playing Harry Potter.” Many of the girls were finishing up the series then (and probably working out their trauma as they were all too young to be reading that business, but I lost that battle, oh well.) This was their first foray into group gaming in this particular configuration, and there were some dynamics to work out.

9yo: “We can’t get along while we’re playing Harry Potter. We fight every day.”
Me: “You fight? Why?”
9yo: “Because everyone wants to be Ginny.”
Me: “Not Hermione?”
9yo: “She’s second choice.”
Me: “Does anybody want to be Harry?”
9yo (thoughtfully): “No, not really.”

Truly, that game was a non-starter.

To ease the constant conflicts, they eventually morphed the game into Dementor Tag. This was a lot like Freeze Tag except that once you were frozen, your soul got sucked right out of your mouth. No word on whether there was soul-to-mouth contact, or for that matter, mouth-to-mouth, but surely someone would have called me.

There was a short-lived foray into playing co-ed kickball, but according to 9yo, “the boys take it too seriously and ruin everything, and it’s too sweaty.” Could be said of so many activities, really.

A little while after this, I found her rummaging through her collection of hair accoutrements, picking out all the headbands and trying them on while she made moony faces at herself in the mirror.

Me: “Headbands give me a headache, because they grip behind the ears and give me those dents. Do they bother you?”
9yo: “Kind of, but I need to wear one because of our new recess game.”
Me: “Why’s that?”
9yo: “Headbands protect you from mind control.”

Who knew.

The next I heard of recess, they were playing a “game” called Mental Hospital. Each girl had invented a mental illness to suffer from, all except the two playing doctor and nurse. 9yo’s illness involved disturbing flashbacks that “make me fall down and almost have a concussion! And then the nurse has to help me get back up.” From what I could gather, pretty much all of the invented syndromes caused the sufferer to fall down and need to be helped up. I have to confess I was pretty glad they weren’t more informed/imaginative than that.

And then there was Happy Family, where a tribe of parentless children wandered in the wilderness eking out survival.

9yo: “I’m a four year old who has a lot of tantrums, but is a good cook.”
Me: “Oh. Typecasting, then, huh?”
9yo: “Moo-ooom. Actually that game was super annoying because of all the tantrums. It kind of never went anywhere.”

Again, could be said of so many activities.

Somebody must have let their kid watch relaxing b.s. TV with them, because next the girls played Divorce Court. 9yo was the lawyer representing the Bad Mom, who was in court fighting The Father and his lawyer in front of The Judge for custody of the Sad Child Caught in the Middle. Apparently, television-worthy histrionics ensued. Both tantrums and falling down were definitely happening.

They finished up the year by embroidering and extending the stories from the Percy Jackson & The Olympians series. All the girls played goddesses or half-humans with complicated relationships and back stories.

9yo: “It’s REALLY fun. We even had someone… (Pauses. Cuts eye at me.) DIE.”
Me: “Wow. Did she get to come back to life?”
9yo: “Well, not as her old self. She’s still playing the game, but she had to make up someone new to be.”

Making up someone new to be. It’s what playground games are all about, right? Life, too—you have to be inventive and resourceful, and willing to start over from scratch. If these crazy creative fourth grade girls are any indication, the future of the world is in good hands.

Sometimes they even play on the playground in uniform!

Sometimes they even play on the playground in uniform!

3 Responses to “The Game of Life”

  1. Susan McCulley June 9, 2014 at 1:16 pm #

    “the boys take it too seriously and ruin everything, and it’s too sweaty.” from the mouths of babes. Miller, you rock it.

  2. The Coconut Girl June 12, 2014 at 12:47 am #

    I could read your writing all day. “Could be said of so many activities…” A mother’s wisdom-sardonic irreverence saves the day again! Thank you.

    • amomynous2 June 12, 2014 at 7:26 pm #

      You are lovely. Right back at your writing! 🙂 XOX

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