Childhood Games

I was watching my kids play in the courtyard yesterday with Athletic Boy and Sidekick. Athletic Boy was doing mind-blowingly fast circuits on his scooter on the path that surrounds the grass. Sidekick was attempting to race but kept getting shoved off the road, Car Race Style. My kids just stood on the sidelines, being the audience. Wow! Wow! Look how fast he goes mommy, look! Look!

Yeah. Wow. Exciting. Like I’ve never seen a dude go fast on a scooter before. Excuse me if I don’t bow in homage. It’s cold out.

I didn’t say.

“So, what are you playing?” I said.
“We’re watching Athletic Boy,” said Trombone. Like duh.

Athletic Boy and Sidekick (age 5.5 and 6.5, respectively) have three games: race the scooters. Hide and Seek. Wrestling. Once they’re done playing those games, they usually bug the shit out of each other and get separated and sent to their respective homes. Yesterday was no different. In the meantime, though, I had to supervise the wrestling to make sure Trombone didn’t get his neck broken, and stick around outside during hide and seek to make sure no one lured Fresco out into the cul de sac. And while I was supervising, I was thinking about my favourite games as a kid.

Granted, I only remember the ones after a certain age, when I was old enough to play unsupervised with my friends and we made our own fun. Prior to that I believe I made a lot of mud pies, played “circus” (we pretended my puppy was a lion and we were taming him), and I remember spending a lot of time sitting on the front steps of the house, waving at cars and getting excited when the people in the cars waved back. Yes, that’s the whole game. I miss back when.

But top three games for the middle school years:


Like many kids I took “Harriet the Spy” to heart and sat perched in the big-armed tree just outside my gate, watching people go by and writing things down in my little notebook.

The Glamorous Movie Star Game:

I think this was around grade 6 or 7? One of us pretended to be Elizabeth Taylor. One pretended to be Marilyn Monroe*. I believe the third, if there was a third friend present, had to be a reporter. And then we staged elaborate intrigue scenarios on the top floor of my house, which had three rooms and several spacious closets; one movie star would disappear but leave notes behind as clues to her whereabouts. I believe the reporter had to find the movie stars. Using glamorous accents was important.

* I have no idea how or why I became obsessed with Marilyn Monroe at a certain age, but I did. I didn’t watch any of her films but I read her biography and I thought she was just fabulous.

Hopping Asteroids

At the front of my elementary school there are nine trees spaced a few feet apart from one another (and a tenth, at the opposite end of the block). In 6th grade, we were studying the solar system in science and one day at recess my friends and I decided that the nine trees each represented one of the planets. Hopping Asteroids was a game of tag / musical chairs, where each player started on her “home” tree (mine was Mars) and then attempted to hop to another tree before the person who was “it” could tag her. You had to hop on one leg, though. That was the tricky part.

The tenth tree we named “Planet X” and also “The Mustard Tree” because it had little bits that it dropped that, when you squished them, made a sort of yellow dust. It also had prickly, holly-like leaves. When Hopping Asteroids caused a major rift between me and my best friends, I stopped playing and decided Planet X was a witch’s tree. I cast elaborate spells on my former friends. You had to use the prickly leaves to carve the person’s name into the trunk of the tree, then rub it all over with the yellow dust, then fold up the leaf and stuff it in the ground near the tree trunk. ONLY THEN would your spell come true.

What were your favourite childhood games?

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