If you are a grown up - and I am assuming most of you are - you may have forgotten the joys of childhood games. Games like duck, duck, goose for instance. Duck, duck, goose has hidden depths that, though you appreciate them as a child, your grown-up mind discards this appreciation for more grown up things like golf or driving over the speed limit.
The game appeals to the trickster in us all. Here everyone is, sitting in an orderly circle and someone comes along with their anti-social behavior and creates lawlessness and disorder. Screaming, running, kicking, and pulling spread like an epidemic through the once peaceful circle. And just when you think that things will never be the same it all snaps back into place. Social norms are restored. The only memory of the complete and total anarchy that took hold a moment before is the maniacal gleam in everyone's eye and the person circling around the outside of all that organization ready to start the cycle all over again. It reminds us that civilization is always just waiting for its cue to become chaos.
Duck, duck, goose has recently become one of my very favorite games.
When I was in India, my friend Amanda and I introduced duck duck goose to the girls at All Bengal and you have never seen a group of girls more excited. It didn't last because the older girls soon figured out that it was more fun when you get caught and have to play another round then if you actually succeed in out running the person you 'goosed'.
In Korea, it’s a game commonly played in school yards. Yesterday, I was playing it with the kindergarteners who still have that enthusiasm for winning that surpasses all planes of logic.
We went to a pine forest near our school so that the kindergarteners could get some fresh air. At first I was in charge of Kiwi class but Apricot would not stop following me around so they had to switch it up so I was once more responsible for the three musketeers - Kevin, Kris and Min. Or actually, its Paul now. Min inexplicably changed his name to Paul.
When it was time to get in a circle for duck duck goose, we started out sitting properly but within three minutes I had all three of them on my lap while they played with dirt and threw rocks like four year old boys everywhere.
Min - or Paul or whatever name he's operating under these days - was one of the first to be chosen and I had to gesture wildly to make him understand that he was supposed to chase the person who 'goosed' him. When he didn't catch him, he came back to me looking heartbroken. I had to reassure him that catching the person who 'goosed' you was not really the point of the game. It was all about the chase. He didn't understand me, of course, so I moved on.
He didn't know how to play so I just told him to go up to William Teacher and yell 'goose!' then start running around the circle. He understood me but kept on looking back at me, like he wasn't sure he was supposed to be yelling anything at teachers and this was some kind of test.
He walked over to William and stood behind him for a good minute, staring intently like a psycho, the wheels in his little brain turning while William tried to pretend he wasn't there. Finally, he managed to shout 'goose!' and took off around the circle.
After falling several times (I chose William because I knew he would slow down and let Min win) he had made it halfway around the circle and back to where I was. He promptly dove into my lap like I was his own personal home base. I tried to tell him to keep running but he was so pleased with himself that he wasn't listening. Eventually, we just let it go.
But for the rest of the game whenever Kris, Kevin or Min were picked, they would only run right back to me instead of around the circle like they were supposed to. It was pretty cute.