playing games Tradition / Ritual in The River | World Anvil
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playing games

Games are an essential part of childhood in women's culture. More than just exercise and good fun, the interactions between girls of different ages lay the groundwork for their future relationships with each other as women. Similarly, the games boys play with each other prepare them for life with a pack later.

Some games for girls

Because young girls usually vastly outnumber mature girls, these games tend to be low-key and suitable for one or two older girls to entertain a large group at once.
  • Story rounds: One girl recites the first line of a well-known story, then calls out the name of another girl to give the next line. If she says it correctly she calls out another girl to continue the story until it is ended. A variation on this game, favored by the youngest girls, is to make up nonsense stories until no one can speak for laughing.
  • Leaping the line: A simple game good for a little light exercise. A group of girls holds hands in a line. The last girl in the line "leaps" by putting her free hand on the hands of the next girls in line. She then releases her other hand and leaps again to the next set of clasped hands. Meanwhile the new last girl does the same on the other side of the line.
  • Chase: This game is more chaotic, reserved for days when everyone's energy is up. The objective is simply to run after other girls. Participants can switch between chasing and fleeing any time they choose, but most often it is the mature girls who flee and are caught with surprising frequency by much smaller girls.

Some games for boys

Since small boys tend to be ignored by girls, they rely on visiting boy packs for social interaction. Their games are often physical in nature and take advantage of the wide range of ages.
  • Shoulders: This game requires an even number of players, four or more, of disparate sizes. Each tall boy takes a small boy on his shoulders. The small boys toss small pieces of pipe tree back and forth to each other while the tall boys dodge them.
  • Finding: This two- to five-person game can be played in a village or on the road. One player tosses a small object such as a rock, and another must find where it lands. Without moving from that spot, he then tosses the object again, and the next boy goes to its new resting place. The process continues until too many players leave the game or the object is permanently lost.

Some games for both

Mixed groups tend to choose "showing-off" kinds of games with clear goals for winning.
  • Mud games: After a summer evening's rain, the soft cool mud left behind provides a good opportunity for boys and girls to play more creative types of games together.
  • Jumping sticks: Most of the players form a circle, with one or two in the middle holding long sticks of pipe tree. They crouch and spin the pipe tree in a circle close to the ground, and the others must jump over the stick as it approaches them. A jumper who is hit by a stick is out of the game.
  • Boy-sitting: Preferred by mature girls, boy-sitting is more of a personal contest between individuals. It is never a fair test of strength, since the low social status of boys prevents them from winning at this game.

Women and games

When a girl has her first daughter and becomes a woman, she is expected to stop playing children's games. She may play baby-games with her girl until she can walk, but after that a mother is supposed to let her daughter play with the other girls. A woman who continues to play games is seen as a woman who cannot let go of her girlhood. Even more questionable is a woman who takes an older boy into her home. She may explain that this is only to keep a young boy of her own entertained in the house, but she will always be suspected of indulging in childish games.
Wait a minute! What do you mean by "boy-sitting"?!
Probably exactly what I think you think I mean. Since boys are so often on the move, women don't connect them with the consequences.  To them, sitting on boys is just another game.

View from the future

Many of these are classic games still played in the modern world, if only because of their universal simplicity. The attitude toward women playing games is much relaxed, especially now that adulthood is based on maturity rather than parenthood.

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