|Jinny is having minor surgery to improve her eyesight so I will be writing her article for the next 4-6 weeks. We both appreciate your patience and are confident that she will be back writing her article soon...Adele
When my brothers and I were growing up we must have fought WWII about 10,000 times. This was a game that involved running around our property, which had hundreds of ingenious places to hide, playing at being soldiers. I know that there are many people who object to this kind of activity as violent and negative, but it was pretty harmless. None of us owns a gun or has violent tendencies; we just liked to play.
My oldest brother and his friend invariably chose to be the allied forces, a choice that was hotly contested by the rest of us but they managed to back up with the kind of older sibling intimidation that usually works. My younger brother and his friend, the brother of the other kid, usually teamed up and I was left with my youngest brother as my comrade, a situation envied by no one. Being the only girl in the gang, I was naturally expected to watch over the baby. It was a different time.
We sometimes played with squirt guns, which we filled up at the outside faucet, a designated neutral zone. I remember that we had a marvelous device that was designed to mimic a flame thrower. It had tanks that you wore on your back and a hose that was attached to a squirt gun. It didn't have any pressure to speak of, but you didn't have to reload as often. The problem was that it leaked. Nothing major, just a slow, irritating, wet trickle down your back. Naturally, my baby brother usually ended up with this weapon. I can remember him toddling along with the tanks on his back with his backside absolutely soaked.
The rules of the game were strictly laid out by the older boys; if you were squirted you had to stay in one place and count to 100 before you could get back in the game. In the case of my youngest brother, he had to count to 10 on his fingers 10 times. He would pretend that he couldn't do it just to get out of counting. It worked for a few years but we finally caught on to him and he had to count like everyone else. There were numerous arguments about who got who first and some standard accusations and name calling; all perfectly natural and par for the course, but it never degenerated into anything physical. We must have enjoyed it all because we played it a lot, along with cops and robbers and knights of the middle ages.
I read a book recently about boys, how they play, and why they play it. It made wonderful sense and I related to much of it as a sister and mother of boys. The author suggested that boys have been discouraged from playing these games in the modern world and that the new substitute for the games we used to play are video games. I can attest to this having raised two sons in the electronic age.
My son, Chuck, had two friends over the other day and they decided to play a video game. This is a game I sometimes play with him and although I am not very good at it, I have fun. His two friends were fairly good at the game, as boys their ages are. I was working in the kitchen and listening while they played. It was a weird flash back moment. They chose sides, uniforms, and allegiances and began to play. There were the same accusations of cheating, the same arguments about territory and neutral zones, and the same name calling that we used to do; lots of calling each other idiots and cheaters and the like. I realized that they were doing exactly what we used to do and what boys have probably done since the dawn of time being boys. They were being competitive, insulting, and rowdy. We were competitive, insulting, and rowdy. I imagine that Roman boys playing in the streets were competitive, insulting, and rowdy. The game does not change, only the technology. In the end, I'm not certain that the way to raise our boys to be kind or good or gentle is to deny them their boyhood; I suspect that in the end, it creates more problems than it solves. Personally, I think that the Roman boys and my brothers and all the boys in between had the right idea; at least they were getting some fresh air and exercise.