In All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, Robert Fulghum writes about hiding in a pile of leaves in his front yard and not being found by the game’s seeker. He likens this hiding-too-well as a kid to a doctor who was dying of cancer but never told anybody because he didn’t want to make things difficult for those who loved him. In the end, his approach made things difficult because his family was angry he hadn’t trusted them and angry he didn’t say good-bye.
Fulghum says he likes the game Sardines better than hide-and-seek. In Sardines, when you find the one who is hiding, you climb into the hiding place, too, and the next one to find the place does the same and so on until so many people are in there, someone giggles and the whole pack is found.
Try writing about a childhood game that took place in your house, on your front porch, in your car, on your block, in a neighbor’s yard, on the school yard, in a basement, ravine or athletic field. Who played, what you were to do, how did you do it? Describe the end of the game: How did you know who won? Were you often happy or unhappy with the results? Now, what metaphor might your experience be for something else you observe in your life or in another’s life?
SIX EXTENSIONS OF THIS WRITING EXERCISE
- Describe a game you watched other children or adults play when you were a child. What did you make of this game? Did you want to play or were you hoping you’d never have to? Write about what you thought you’d be called on to do.
- Write about a game you play now as an adult. Is it like any game you played in childhood or nothing like any of them? Tell about the likeness or the difference.
- Think about a game you might have your family members or friends play, preferably a game they have never played. Write about telling each player where to sit or stand and what to do. In other words, coach them. What do these instructions portray about what you wish for the group?
- Remember a board game from your childhood: Candyland, Monopoly, Parcheesi, Clue, etc. Describe the board and the board pieces. Describe where the game was kept and where it was played. Describe yourself physically while you played, where and how you sat, what the dice and the game pieces felt like in your hand, what you imagined while you were playing. Go on from there to another memory forever joined in your mind with playing that game.
- Think of a game you can no longer play for whatever reason. Perhaps the equipment is broken or you can’t afford it or you aren’t able to find a team. Perhaps your body can’t move that way anymore, or you don’t have the time to play. Have the game or game pieces or equipment talk to you, telling you the ways in which it misses you.
- Think about someone who is suffering a disappointment or a loss or who is having a hard time. Think about a game you think that person could play to help recover happier feelings. Describe how and where to play the game and what is needed. What would the person you are telling about this game begin to notice and talk about? Write about that!