9.14.2008

Rules of Engagement: The Way of the Playground

Sometime over the summer, during one of our playground outings the kids spotted some older kids playing a game where one person had to touch the other people. My children were absolutely fascinated. They got the gist of the game, but these kids were playing a variation where the toucher had to fumble around with his eyes closed. Nowadays, H has decided that "No eyes" is his favorite playground game and Daddy has been trying to get him to call it TAG ever since.

The problem is, H hasn't exactly developed a "healthy spirit of competition" yet and he will generally only enter an engagement with the deck profoundly stacked in his favor. His sister bears the heaviest burden in this department as she watches all her good ideas morph into his good ideas. He's getting better about sharing attention with her, but things aren't exactly equitable yet. (As I've said before... you'd think they were children or something.)

Anyway, it's been so long since I've played tag, I forgot that there is a whole unwritten code of conduct to it. That is, until all those rules were systematically violated. But the problem is, when you're learning a new game and you'll only play with Daddy and your sister, and you don't like losing, then it's Daddy's job to take you to school.

For instance...

If you get tagged, you are it. It's the very foundation of the game and the one non-negotiable rule. So don't go getting tagged, laugh, run to the far end of the playground and look at me expectantly. Habti did that and I just pointed and said, "Um, YOU are IT." He shouted back, "YOU! YOU AGAIN!" in clear violation of the most basic of rules. He can get away with that crap when he plays with his sister, but Daddy ain't gonna be your tag monkey. And no other child (except his sister) is going to accept that either, so he might as well learn that lesson now. He spent quite a bit of time at the top of the slide wondering why I wasn't giving chase, but he eventually figured out that playing tag by yourself stinks, and would casually meander down, push both hands into his unsuspecting sister, and run back up.

If you are not it, run and/or hide. You will not be given any leniency in this department. You can assume that you will consistently become 'it' if you stand frozen and scream when you see Daddy charging full-speed toward you. You will also be 'it' if you DON'T see Daddy coming. Being genuinely surprised by the tagger does in no way negate the fact that you are now 'it.'

To tagback or not to tagback? That is the question. H didn't have a name for it, but he certainly exploited the lack of predetermined tagback rules. Tagbacks are great when you can outmaneuver your younger sister, but downright frustrating against Daddy who has longer arms. You can't have it both ways. H finally had an epiphany after getting tagged-back about 85 times in a row (I didn't start it btw...) He glared at me and said, "Stop! Wait! Count 10!" I responded, "You never counted to 10 for me." Hmm... funny how that never occurred to him.

If you are tagged, you are still it. Again, spare us all the drama. Nobody wants to hear about how you weren't ready, or how you are suddenly parched, or how you didn't get enough of a headstart. Yell. Fake an injury. Produce tears. Pout. Shake your fist at the injustice. Demand a redo. Call a retroactive time-out. Those of us who made it past the 4th grade have heard all the excuses already. Whatever, nobody cares. You are still it.

Take it like a little girl, son. After all, it is the playground.

8 comments:

jill coen said...

Oh my goodness - "but Daddy ain't gonna be your tag monkey" is my new favorite quote.

You forget how you learn the rules to something like tag...

Ya'll brighten my day and often cause me to burst into loud, obnoxious laughter. Thanks!!

jill coen said...

I just blogged about ya'll...hope you don't mind!

http://thecoens.blogspot.com

Christine said...

Although ALL your posts are incredibly witty and funny, Ms. Coen is correct... "Daddy ain't gonna be your tag monkey" is an instant classic. How fondly I remember my own father saying those very words... LOL Chris P.S. Found your blog through a friend's adoption and have enjoyed every minute!blog...http://notquitedoneadopting.blogspot.com/

The Gillman Family said...

This is too good! You gotta put this stuff together in a book! Maybe you could title it, "How a parent really feels sometimes - but would never tell anyone."

Blessings,
Kim

cuz jill in sd said...

oh so true! LOL Thanks for the review of playing tag with the kids. just don't let them learn the new variations that the older kids are playing now-days. . .I was "it" constantly- just because the new variations. (and i'm old and my boys can run way faster!):o) Have a great day- tag monkey!

cuz jill in sd said...

Hey, by the way- thought I'd pass it on that I printed out this blog and gave it to my 10 year old. he came home really upset the other day about a game of tag. If he just understood these BASIC rules. . .

Jori said...

We palyed just this the other day and I must say even with our kids now and both my husband and I playing .. I must side with the kids sometimes!! :):) Dad is always faster and hides better and gets away and just pain ol'e not IT enough!! :):)
What a game to tire everyone out!!
Again, you always fill my bloggy needs!
jori

Karen said...

Gardners - your blog is a breath of fresh air! Love the honesty and the humor! I read your blog out loud to my husband and kids. I think I will print out your rules and post it at the neighborhood park! with love, Karen Wistrom (AWAA)