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Friday, 18 October 2013

Girls Scouts and Elders Playing Games Together

Before I get into this, let me give you the backstory.

I have never been a kid person. As my biological clock ticked toward 40, I carefully considered childbearing and realized I had never had the overwhelming desire that apparently comes naturally to most women.

Maybe I'm missing the mommy gene (she shrugged).

Children, I think, are kinda cute but only in short bursts and only for as long as they are clean and well behaved which for me means relatively still and not loud. I cannot stand that high-pitched screeching noise they – mostly little girls – make.

Further, even if they meet my kid criteria, I have no idea what to say to them. I mean, the weather probably wouldn't be as reliable an ice breaker as it can be with adults and I don't know what interests children.

So it's hard to figure what possessed me agree to attend a “Board Games and Brownies” event last Monday at which some old people would play games with nine-year-old Girl Scouts who had baked the treats themselves. Oy.

I was a few minutes early, checking blog comments on my phone when, at the appointed hour, a gaggle of chattering little girls burst into the room.

Immediately, a bunch of them surrounded my chair. One announced, “Hi, I'm Sophia,” and we shook hands as I told her my name.

Thus we proceeded through 10 or 12 little girls - Mary, Hayden, Selina, Pam, Casey, etc. (Most names invented due to short-term memory lapses on my part.) Toward the end of the formal greetings I heard again, “Hi, I'm Sophia.”

“Didn't you and I already do this ritual?” I asked her.

“Just being sure,” said Sophia with a mischievous grin, and we all – the whole gaggle and I who had been quite serious until that moment - burst out laughing.

Three or four of the girls, including Sophia, and I found a table and they selected a game – Hed Banz – which, I quickly learned, is a form of 20 questions. There are plastic head bands into which cards are placed so that the wearers can't see what image is on the card.

Then, each in her turn, asks yes and no questions to figure out what she is. Nevermind. Here's a short video that explains it better than my long-winded description would.

It's a much more fun and funny game than that video indicates, particularly when everyone talks at once, no one keeps score, no one cares about rules and couple of players insist on giving easy-to-guess clues – all with great, good humor.

When it took too long for someone to work out the answer, the remaining crew got frustrated. In one set, when a girl couldn't come up with “Am I a hammer?” after 20-odd questions, the player who gave away the answer most often just mimed pounding a hammer on the table so the game could move on. And we all laughed again.

Sometimes we had to debate the correct answer - all talking on top of each another, of course. We took a good deal of time working out whether ketchup is a vegetable. (No, I didn't lecture them about the U.S Department of Agriculture, President Ronald Reagan and the school lunch program controversy over that very question in 1980.)

And you probably didn't know that it takes a good deal of discussion to decide if a fly is an animal. You would be amazed how serious a group of nine-year-olds can be about such questions although giggles are big part of it too.

After several rounds of this hilarity, another Girl Scout arrived pushing a trolley with about a dozen kinds of brownies to choose from. I asked who at our table had baked which ones and of course, chose those that my game mates had brought.

You can guess what happened next. It wasn't long before sugar shock sent the volume of 12 little girls' voices (and mine) through the roof.

You'd think we were all drunk. The game got louder and sillier and, apparently, the noise from our group was drawing enough attention that some of the other sugar-charged kids wanted to join us.

Our table swelled to about eight or nine trying to play. We ran out of head bands (hed banz) so they used their hair clips (clever of them) to attach the cards to their hair.

The combination of sugar highs and too many kids (plus one elder) squeezed together at a small table turned the game to chaos – not that we cared. We were just as high on one another, on our own silliness and having a grand ol' time. And a big plus for me was that for all the noise, these kids weren't doing that awful screechy thing I don't like.

So it might have gone for another hour or two but mothers started arriving to pick up their children. The girls and I traded lots of hugs and high fives over what a good time we'd had together.

Don't get me wrong; I won't be running a play center any time soon. But I will attend the next kid/elder event - with eagerness.

I wish more old people would do that. Although the announcement of the event went to a lot of people, only about four other elders turned up and that's a shame.

What an interesting surprise for me to find that I could effortlessly lose myself for two hours with a bunch of nine-year-olds - finding my own nine-year-old self as though 63 years had not gone by since I was that age.

If you get such an invitation, don't let it pass you by.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marc Leavitt: The Girl Who Got Away


Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

What a fun post to read, and I might pass this on to our senior center. Yes, I'd like to be a part of such a pairing! I believe this used to be call Indian Poker.
I have children, no grandkids, but many new neighbor chidren of all ages.
And overwhelmed mothers, stressed fathers while the kids spend most of their spare time at activities outside the home or on too-much homework, as they might need all that to put on their college applications some day. It's tough for them, I think. So hearing of kids being kids and adults doing the same for a few hours, together - priceless morning read...

Yup, I'm not a mommy type either. Yes, mam, what a delight it all must have been. If someone invites me, I'll go.

Same here, never had children but I did love letting my own little kid out to play when I was a grown-up professional. But what a relief that it didn't have to go on 24/7 as a mum.

Sounds like you had a lot of fun,Ronni, and glad to hear you'll be doing it again. Didn't your lawson advent calendar give you a clue!

I loved hearing about your experience. I think the screechy noise mostly girls make leaves when they are about 7 or 8. Older children are always more interesting to non-mommy types because they have developed personalities and are fun to talk to. Too bad more elders didn't take advantage of the event. They missed a fun few hours.

I wonder how many of those of us who "don't like kids" were treated poorly by other kids as children? I know I was -- always wanted to be an adult; never fit in.

This sounds like wonderful fun! We all need more unselfconscious delight.

You know, Jan, I think you're on to something.

Even when I was a kid, I didn't know how to talk to my peers, was shunned for being "a brain" and I generally sought out grownups who liked me because, I think, I was boringly well behaved.

As to the ability to "fit in", be sure to check tomorrow's Interesting Stuff post.

Who organized this function? I'd like to see if I can get one going in my little town! I'm not a kid person either, but now and again I meet a charmer, and 7,8 and 9 year olds are still blissfully free of the hormone surge that makes life hell for teens and parents.

Lauren...
This was organized between the Girl Scouts and the Adult Community Center (read: senior center) in my town.

Last summer, the Girl Scouts held a high tea at the center and I'm helping to brainstorm some additional kid/elder activities.

It's great to know there are others besides my one local contact who are 'not mommy types'. I agree that I enjoy children old enough to have lost the high-pitched piercing tone of voice, and also agree that having a difficult childhood probably contributed to my not wanting to have children. I have, instead, been in loco parentis to more than 60 students from nearly as many countries, who attend a United World College near me. Lots of laughter, learning, good food and fun.

Enjoyed this post so much. You really brought a smile to my face. Thanks....

Sounds like great fun! I miss the days when I was a Brownie. I don't remember such games times a Brownie, but I do remember making "sit-upons": large oil cloth squares filled with newspapers, then bound around the edges with yarn, with straps for ties inserted. These went around our waists and protected our clothing when we sat on the ground during meetings, which was most of the time, since that was in Texas and mostly outdoors.

Glad you enjoyed it,and I'm looking forward to hearing about more of these activities.

FYI to those who do not realize it: Not all mothers are "mommy types". I certainly was/am not; but, our families usually learn how to cope with us. We may not make the best moms; but, what are you going to do? Send 'em back? No way!

As to screechy little girls: I'll match you screech for screech with little boys of my acquaintance. Sounds like a stereotype to me! (I'm never guilty of stereotyping, of course. I just happen to agree with Lucy from Peanuts when she said, "Girls are better than boys.")

I'm not the mommy type either but love coming from a big family.

That screeching noise was the regular soundtrack in the halls of the schools where I taught.

I loved teaching kids, but was happy to go home to my husband and cat after school.

Ronni, I'm glad you ended up enjoying this event, but I truly am not a "kid person"--although I'm surprisingly fond of my 7 year old granddaughter! I think janinsanfran has a point. I was (what is now recognized as) bullied in various forms throughout my K-12 school years. Thank goodness there was no Facebook back then--if I had been "cyberbullied" as well, I might never have reached adulthood, let alone old age.

In any event I've never had the slightest desire to have children or spend much time around them, and I don't see this changing. I feel so sad for the kids who are the victims of today's sophisticated forms of bullying--what will their futures turn out to be?

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