Isn’t it funny how playground games are are repeated in schools, generation after generation?
See that picture above? We used to called them Glick-Glurgers. My daughter Sarah calls them Chatterboxes.
When I was young, my sister and I had hours of fun with these. You stick your fingers into the corners of the squares so that both thumbs are touching at one end and both forefingers are touching at the other, then you move it back and forth in a pinching motion which reveals alternate centres. I really do not have the mind to describe it in detail and it’s not relevant to do so, only to say that at the last part of the game, a flap is opened to reveal either a statement about your partner or a command for them to do something ridiculous.
Little girls especially, sit in class and snigger under their desks while their friend chooses a number that confirms they are a clown or an instruction to snort like a pig.
One day, I was busy multi-tasking in the kitchen when Sarah walked in asking (demanding really) that I choose a colour then a number then another number and once more. After having to hop on one leg, squawk like an eagle, and do a silly dance while stirring the pot in front of me, I decided enough was enough. I didn’t want to play anymore. It was 4:15pm and the wet clothes still hadn’t made it to the line. The bin needed to go out to the front of the house for tomorrow’s collection or we’d have two weeks of bags piling up. I had a sink full of crockery that contained the bowls we had used for breakfast and now my oven was playing up, switching itself off as and when it pleased.
Sarah was still in the uniform I had asked her to take off an hour ago and I was in no mood for repetitive action games.
She continued, flicking her paper back and forth. “You’ve not chosen Number 3 yet Mummy. You’ve got to do that one! Come on, Red, Gold, Orange or Blue.”
I sighed as I wiped my brow. “Blue.”
“One, Seven, Twenty-two or Three-hundred.”
“Ah,” I mused, “This will put her off…three hundred.”
She counted in hundreds and was done in seconds. I eventually landed on her precious number 3 and was promptly told to laugh like a marmoset.
“Right, okay. I can’t do this anymore Sarah, I’m busy. Let’s play this later. No, I’m not going try just one cackle, go and play while I finish off in here.”
She hung her head and left the kitchen. I hung my head too. A fatherly voice spoke deep into my spirit. What was most important at that time? Getting the dinner finished or putting down my spoon for 5 minutes and playing with my cherished daughter?
It hit me hard. I thought to myself that there will be a day soon, when Sarah will not want to see and hear me laugh like a marmoset, not even in private. That day, we all know only too well, creeps up on us and comes far quicker than we thought it would.
I thought about the first day she was born and how that seemed like yesterday. I pondered on the fact that she was now more than half my height. Then I looked into the living room and imagined a place so quiet, where no innocent, childlike human resides. No doll clothes strewn about the floor and no elastic band, Rainbow Loom bracelets stuck between the settee cushions.
I remembered that first kiss. A cheek so soft and eyelashes so dark and long. Cherry red lips and a tiny chest moving up and down. That moment was so precious. How many more embraces will I have?
I threw my spoon into the washing up water, and as the suds splashed around the draining board, I rushed into her personal space. Then, I opened my mouth so wide that my top lip curled under, revealing my gums. Closing my eyes, I let out the loudest, craziest, ‘Ee, ee, ee, ee,ee’ that you have ever heard.
A newborn baby. I remember the joy.
Your little head lay on my chest.
You’d fought so hard to escape and be free,
Then exhausted, you had a good rest.
I watched as your tiny lungs moved up and down,
And your head bobbed like it was floating.
My last hour was filled with unspeakable pain,
But then I just lay there gloating.
I remember how your skin was so soft,
My heart warms as I reminisce.
But my dearest memory is the special time,
I gave you your very first kiss.