Children Playing Blind Man’s Bluff

Children Playing Blind Man's Bluff by Friedrich Caspar Hoesch, ca 1860
Children Playing Blind Man’s Bluff by Friedrich Carl Hoesch, ca 1860

For some time now my kids have enjoyed playing Marco Polo, a similar game to Blind Man’s Bluff. I don’t usually enjoy watching kids play. Kids are not very tactful and are trying to put into practice the ideas they learned just two minutes ago, which sometimes leads to very thoughtless, mean, or awkward moments.

And still, when someone crosses someone’s line (a boy pushing through the crowd instead of saying excuse-me; a girl not answering a question; another girl deciding to sit out a game everyone else is playing), the line-crossed child goes to that unfortunate other child’s parent and tells them about it. I’ve even been told by a nine-year-old girl to have a little talk with my eight-year-old son about saying excuse me. Maybe I’m still that awkward, quiet girl on the playground, because I am shamed to have children tattle to me about some minor wrong my children have done to them.

Aren’t other boys rough and loud? Is my son seriously the first and only rough, loud, pushy, annoying boy these kids have met? Because they ought to meet my husband. Are my daughters really required to join in some game they aren’t feeling comfortable joining? They ought to know me a little better. (And some of them did yesterday, when I felt uncomfortable leading my children up a tall tower staircase with thirty other people at a field trip. I insisted we stay down, and I’m relieved with my decision.)

So here I sit at my computer, hating the meanness of childhood, and yet sticking up for my kids and other kids who haven’t reached the maturity levels their friends and their friends’ parents expect them to have. They are growing, folks. We’re all growing. We’re all growing differently. I’m probably not going to grow to be really brave about towers and driving. My husband isn’t going to grow to be a gentle, art-loving reader-man. My son will never grow out of his really loud voice. He may never grow out of his bull-in-a-china-shop persona. My daughter might never grow to be a social butterfly. But they will grow in other ways. We will all grow in other ways. And that’s reassuring on a grand scale, but not so great for the next time I have to watch Marco Polo… Maybe I’ll have to put the blindfold on myself.

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