Friday, October 24, 2003

Rules of the Game

I've always wondered how it is that kids just seem to know how to play playground games. The same games and rhymes seem to get passed down from generation to generation without anybody particularly sitting down to teach them. There's some sort of cultural osmosis going on here, as if the need to hopscotch were part of our genetic code. Then again, it may just be that kids are quietly checking out Web sites like this one to get all those rules of the game down pat.

The site's called "Games Kids Play," and it made me wish that there were a site that gave the rules of all those other games kids get so good at -- games like, "Today you're my best friend, but tomorrow I won't talk to you, and then the day after that you can be my best friend again," or "We think you're funny sometimes, but sometimes you make us feel mad, and sometimes you make us feel mean, and it doesn't matter that you're always doing exactly the same thing." Because those games must be in a lot of kids' genetic codes, too, but my kiddos' special needs seem to include an inability to play them, or to understand why they must be played.

It would be nice to be able to make some flashcards to help my daughter survive in sixth-grade-girl society, or help my son -- he of the arrested emotional development and imperviousness to physical pain -- understand why people do the things they do. On that latter question, we might get some help from the do2learn site, which has a truly nifty interactive section called "The Feelings Game," complete with faces and scenarios designed to explain emotions to the emotion-impaired. When they develop "The Hurt Your Feelings Game" for explaining middle-school social politics, I'll be all set.

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