A beautiful summer evening at the community park is the perfect setting for playground games with neighbours. Or so you’d think.
It started out as a casual and active game of Mulch Man (a combination of the classic Tag and Sandman, but on mulch). There was laughter and joking and connections between friends. The squealing when a player just missed being caught could be heard across the field. Glorious. Just glorious.
Until it wasn’t.
Some of the children suggested we move on to a different game, namely Cross Canada. Essentially, all participants line up on one end of the playing area while the Tagger calls out a characteristic. If you have the characteristic, you may cross safely to the other side of “Canada”. After that, everyone just books it. If tagged, you join the Tagger until one player remains.
Just another classic game, right? Some harmless fun.
The first round or two were innocuous: “Cross Canada if you are wearing blue” and “Cross Canada if you are older than seven” and “Cross Canada if you have kids.” Innocent enough. Then there was an almost imperceptible shift. The sky darkened (nevermind that it was sunset, that is just a coincidence) and a breeze travelled across the playing area.
“Cross Canada if you’re wearing shoes”. That eliminated myself and three family members because we are clearly lax in our footwear safety.
“Cross Canada if you took a bath this week.” We have a pool, we’re on a hygiene holiday. It’s fine.
“Cross Canada if cheese is your favourite food.” This feels like it’s getting pretty personal now.
That’s when I heard one of my children whisper to the neighbour kid, “You don’t have to be the fastest, you just have to be faster than my mom.” First of all: hurtful. Second: accurate, but please refer to previous point. I do have feelings.
“Cross Canada if you are wearing underwear.” Only two out of the five of us could rightly travel to safety on the other side of the field. This was beyond personal and was going to require answers none of us were ready to provide.
“Alright, everyone! Looks like it’s getting close to bedtime so I think we’ll just wrap this up before any more family secrets are spilled. Thanks for the play!”
Despite me being the one to shut down this session of Cross Canada, make no mistake, reader. I intend to use this new knowledge to my advantage. I volunteer to be Tagger all the time.
“Cross Canada if you loaded your dishes into the dishwasher.”
“Cross Canada if you are the one who broke my earbuds.”
“Cross Canada if you recently spilled pop on the basement carpet.”
“Cross Canada if you just put your clothes back in the dirty laundry because you didn’t want to refold them.”
Cross Canada. Cross Canada, indeed.