Thursday, February 4

A Year (or Two) in Kenya: Girls and their games

You may noticed a dominance of a certain gender in the last post concerning the kids' toys and games. Or not. Up until they hit puberty, it's pretty impossible to tell the two apart. It doesn't help that we keep them all shaved or that dresses are in scarce supply. That's also a healthy part of the reason it took me seven bleeding months to definitely learn all of their names. It took an entire month just to reliably tell the boys from the girls.

But I digress. The point is that it was mostly boys who played checkers and marbles and the stick game and whatnot. The girls prefer other entertainments. Like throwing balls at each other. Seriously. One girl will turn an empty cup over and stack maybe ten pebbles or so on top of it. A second girl will take six paces or so and begin throwing a ball, normally an old sock stuffed with more old socks, at it. Once it hits, she takes off running and the one waiting hurries to turn the cup back over and put all the pebbles back before grabbing the ball and chasing down the first girl. If she hits, they switch places in the next round. If she misses, she grabs the ball and tries again until she does hit the other one.

Jump rope in two variations is also common. There's the classic version with girl on each end of the rope, swinging it in a wide arc, and a girl jumping over it in the center. Then there's the one where a loop of rope is pulled taut between the waists of two girls to form parallel lines at waist height, a waist length apart. The girls passing between don't so much hop as snap their legs up to keep as level as possible.

In another game that spends most of its time going through the rubbish, the kids will pull out out every shoe polish tin, old Vaseline container, even the plastic caps of water bottles, anything that will hold water really. Then they add water. And dirt. And shreds of grass. Then they go back to the rubbish pit once we light the whole affair on fire and pull out a few burning twigs. They put them under their cups and call it cooking. Yum.

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