This spring, the girls got very interested in the playground game four square. I never played the game growing up, so I had no idea how to play, and in fact at first I confused four square with tetherball, another game I never played.*
Now, the girls love this game, and want to play it almost all time, which is excellent because we have a great driveway for it. In trying to play with them, though, I’ve learned that their grasp of the rules is either a little shaky or brilliantly egalitarian: there is basically no way to lose, or at least to lose badly enough to be eliminated from the game. You can “go out,” but that just means that… someone has said you have to go out. You can go right ahead and keep on playing.
This is fine, since it’s usually just three of us playing, and even a cursory glance at the rules shows that you really need five people to play a real game – one in each quadrant of the “board,” and one to come in when another player goes out. But still, it’s clear that the girls enjoy the game half because they get to call out all kinds of arcane rules and conditions at the start of each round (“King has double lives, regulars, double touches, no cherry bombs, no volleys.”) and half because they love whacking the ball as hard as possible, ideally at my face.
I find both aspects of the game amusing, so I’m okay with this.
* The most common playground or gym games in my elementary school were kickball, tackle football (at least until Mr. Belmas made us stop), and “boomerang,” which is like a full-court version of dodgeball.