“Come on, its fun!”
This was the sound of my childhood. I tried hard, I really did, but was not a natural athlete. Three years of going to gymnastics twice a week and I couldn’t swing myself on to the bar, twist on the beam or somersault on the mat. To this day my gymnastic prowess ends at being able to execute beautifully a forward roll and a round off; after sufficient warm ups of course.
Not all games are fun.
The question this raises is simple; what does a child or teenager in a small country town do to socialise if they don’t play weekend sport? How can they fit in? Surely it’s not natural for children to be so anti sport?
I wasn’t anti sport. I loved playing left field on the school softball team, it gave me time-out to write stories in my head, lie in the sun, process the days events and make pictures from clouds whilst listening to the far away voices of other kids seemingly becoming stressed and worked up about something of no importance.
Once I even forgot to go back to class and only realised school had finished because our school oval bordered a road, and I was splashed by a passing bus as it went through a puddle caused by rains earlier in the day.
I have difficulty understanding how excited Husband gets over a soccer match or a rugby game or tennis. Seriously. It’s a game, just a game.
Other games are also not fun. As someone with an intensely heightened sense of fair play and justice, coupled with the ability to foresee outcomes way down the line (thinking in layers), and know what to do in order to win or avoid losing, team games at school where we all had to ‘work together’ and ‘co-operate’ were nightmarish at best and a mixture of terrifying, frustrating and distressing opportunities for me to put my foot in it and further ostracise myself from my class mates at worst.
I always wanted to be the boss because I always thought I knew best and if people just listened things would happen much quicker, faster, efficiently and effectively and we would cause whatever results we were after. Invariably this never happened, I was told to sit out because I couldn’t work with the group, and my ‘team’ would be left to struggle on with out me. Invariably I WAS right, but this was not ever recognised and the whole pattern would then repeat itself next time.
There are also games played to a set of rules that someone somewhere has forgotten to download into my DNA before I was born.
One major example of this type of game playing from my childhood left me filled with despair and had a lasting impact on my interactions with people from that moment on.
I had a best friend. We did everything together, going on nature hunts for things, watching movies (although some were a bit too much for my little sensitive self to cope with), hanging out at each others houses, we even tried to swap names. Then, a new girl started at school and we didn’t have enough trays, so she needed to share with someone. MY friend put her hand up and volunteered. I’m sure her mother was proud of her daughter’s kind and generous nature. I felt betrayed. At recess she played with her. Betrayal two. In class MY friend offered to move so the new girl wasn’t sitting on her own. Betrayal three. I was gutted, devastated, despondent and left knowing that people couldn’t be counted on.
Now obviously, at 7, my perception was a little skewed, and what actually felt like the end of the world was far from Armageddon, but I had no idea how to cope, handle or deal with this situation. I obviously managed it badly, and so lost my best friend.
Games of any kind means rules, and children tend to cheat and not follow rules. As a child I could never understand why, or other refusal to see things from my point of view or want to play fair. I would like to say that’s changed, but it hasn’t really. What has changed is that I now have a certain level of acceptance around the fact that this happens in the world and there isn’t a lot I can do about it.
Not all games are fun. Especially if you’re gifted.
As an adult the games that are played have not really evolved beyond these basic types of childhood dynamics, its just the context can be a little different. It seems to me wherever I look people are playing games with other people. Husbands and wives, mothers and sons, work colleagues, staff and customers and so on. Most of it seems to be around power, and who holds it. However, my particular blend of intensities and sensitivities will often leave me in the dark about these power ‘games’ and I will often not even realise I am in the middle of one until I’ve lost (or won as the case may be) and I can look back and think “oh that’s what that was!”
I am straight, and honest and to the point. People know exactly where they stand with me and how I am feeling all the time. I don’t have time for double standards, and I can still be as emotionally overstimulated and out of my depth as an adult as I was as a child.
I don’t play games with people.