My 2 Year Old Has A Fever And Throwing Up A Childhood Game

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A Childhood Game

In the morning, before sunrise, a group of four- to six-year-old Nigerian Igbo boys and girls would gather in the front garden of the family home, and we would use a dry branch to scratch a grid of columns and rows inside of an area of ​​six square feet in the sandy and earthy ground. Then we would take turns and line up with our backs to the grill. From the sidelines, the first boy would throw a rock over his head, hoping it would land on one of the smaller units on the grid. Then, still in front of the grid margin, the thrower must retrieve the pebble, wherever it landed, from outside the margin.

A good throw was when the pebble landed with a thump in the center of a unit, where the child could lean on one leg and one hand, stretch the body and retrieve it with the free hand. A successful throw and retrieve gave the child ownership of the unit, and he could use the acquired units to retrieve future thrown stones. The most affordable units to get were the ones closest to the margins, and we’d try those first. A pebble that did not land within any unit was a bad throw, allowing the next child to throw it.

Aiming and throwing overhead with the back was a challenge for most kids. It was like groping in the dark. You had to mentally calculate the position of each of the units so that a thrown pebble could fall on them without skidding.

There was a lot of motor planning (practice) that went into that critical part of the play. For example, the child had to think about how much force to apply to the pebble and which direction he wanted it to go. He also had to remember the units that were still open; that is, those units not already acquired. Retrieving the pebble from where it landed was also a challenge. To do this, they had to support their body on one leg and one arm, while using the other hand to pick up the pebble. This maneuver must have an immense task for the vestibular system of balance, as well as for the joints and proprioception. Children who did not have a sound balancing system would often roll over and fall on their stomachs.

There were also occasions when children were expected to hop across the units on one leg to retrieve the pebble. It was against the rule for the soles of the feet to touch the lines. Avoiding breaking the rule required a lot of precision and praxis, and coordination between the visual system, the motor system and the vestibular system. We did several reps and reps. Each game lasted for hours, becoming more difficult when each child had to land their pebble on a remaining unit in a corner of the grid. However, I think we persevered because we were competing against each other and because the game was challenging.

That’s not to say there weren’t frustrations. Children with balance difficulties were especially frustrated playing this particular game. Ironically, I remember the frustrating aspect of the game more than the routine parts. I remember the tendency of the pebble to slide off the grid, the numerous times the children stepped on the lines, and the children falling on their stomachs when they extended their right hand while balancing on their left arm and left leg. Falling, while disappointing, was also fun. Unfortunately, just like cultures, bona fide Igbo childhood plays continue to disappear from the playlist of games that children can play.

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