Monday, September 28, 2009

Hiding In Plain Sight

Back in the 1930's no one had to worry about childhood obesity. Kids were too low on the totem pole to get extra food and too underfoot to get to stay indoors. So, they ate only what they needed, and invented games to keep occupied.

Although we ate a little more than needed, we did continue that fine tradition of outdoor gaming this past weekend at my dad's family reunion.

The game from my parents' youth that we play is a tricked up version of hide-and-seek called "Piggy Wants A Motion." One person is "it" and has to find everyone. Anybody who is found has to go to a designated central location - the (pig)pen - and call out for a motion. If someone else in the game, who hasn't been found, waves at him, then the person in the pen can sneak off and hide again.

If you are the one hiding, the trick is to be able to wave at pigs in the pen without "it" finding you. If you are "it," you have to balance finding more "pigs" with guarding the pen to prevent escapes. The game ends when everyone is caught at the same time or the hunter gives up, unable to find the last one or two cleverly hidden people.

Our game started Saturday night with about ten players. I was "it" and got to decide the perimeter and, since it was dark, use a flashlight. The ring of campers and cars was the boundary. The pen was a couple of chairs set close to where all the grownups were sitting around visiting.

People hid behind and over and under campers. Every now and then someone sitting around the camp would indicate with a gesture or a nod where to look when the pen got too empty. I finally found my brother inside a car. My niece was inside a storage bin of an RV.

In a twenty-first century twist, the kids would text each other to say where they were hiding so those in the pen would know where to look for a "motion."

My daughter took the next turn as "it." She had a slight advantage, having seen the common hiding places from the previous game. I sat with one of my older cousins and visited for a while before she noticed and called me back to the pen.

The daytime game the next morning was the most fun. The perimeter was a little larger and included the outhouse and the ruins of the farmhouse along with more cars and tractors. My sons were the most creative in their hiding spaces, going under the floors of tents and inside trash bags. My older son was a lizard in his ability to dart from place to place and blend into (or under) his surroundings.

My brother was "it" in the morning game. He had an annoying habit of guarding the pen. (He later admitted he was too out of shape to run much!) Those in the pen had to develop strategies of distraction so that some could get away.

The game allows for other stealth moves. My son-in-law waited until the game started, not hiding in the first wave. He walked up to the pen and waited for a motion. Then, hidden the rest of the game around the farmhouse ruins, he constantly set pigs free.

My brother, unable to find his daughter, stood near the pen and hollered for a motion. She obligingly popped up to wave and he called her out. She was still griping about the unfairness of it hours later.

Finally, having never found my younger son, my brother ended the game. My son sat up. He'd been laying on the ground about ten feet from the pen the whole time - his blue jeans blending into the ice chest and his red shirt the color of an adjacent camp chair.

Until next time, he's the self-declared reigning champion of the game.


sfc said...

I'm sorry we didn't get out there in time to see this - I think it would have been most amusing to watch. :)
This must have been from your Mom's childhood because I don't recall my mom ever mentioning it before...

Life in the Fifties said...

Yeah, there were more kids around my mom when she was growing up - she actually played with her nieces and nephews that were her age since my mom was the 9th of 10.

But my dad and mom have played that game as long as I can remember.- it's just the last five years they've quit.

And we've played at Christmas time inside their house. Brian hid in a pile of pillows in the living room and my mom never did find him. It was great since the living room couch was the pen.