Playing Tag

The bush near our farmhouse’s chimney was a cedar tree. At least that was what Mom called it. To me, it just looked like a tall, narrow bush. I snuggled into its green branches, trying to melt into it and be invisible. Suddenly, two of my big sisters galloped past and around to the front of the house. They didn’t seem to realize I was even there!

I sighed with relief and discovered that the cedar smelled really good. Tearing off a flat cedar leaf spray, I held it to my nose, took a deep breath and peeked out at the surrounding lawn. I didn’t see anyone. Maybe it would be safe now for me to run. Shouts from the other side of the yard emboldened me. As I sprinted off, my hasty departure making the cedar sway.

My brothers and sisters were playing a tag game called, “7 Steps Around the House.” The rules were simple; if the person who was “IT” saw you take more than 7 steps as you ran around the house, you became the next “IT”.

I didn’t want to get caught and be “IT”! The prospect filled me with great dread, too horrible for my five-year-old mind to express. Just thinking about getting caught made me shiver as if with chills.

Despite being so afraid of being caught, I loved the game. It was one of the few my much older brothers and sisters would play with me. Running and sneaking when no one was looking felt exciting, filled with suspense and anticipation!

The person who was “IT” could walk and run around the house or hide in our yard’s shrubbery. Lulled by not seeing them, the players would creep forward, their goal was to return to the starting place, the farmhouse back-door sidewalk. A player never knew when “IT” would pop unexpectedly down from one of the mountain ash tree branches or slither quickly out from under a bushy evergreen tree.

Social distancing and isolating at home because of COVID 19 reminds me of being a five-year-old playing “7 Steps Around the House”. The prospect of ‘catching’ this novel virus fills me with the same dread I felt back then when I thought about “IT” catching me. Not being able to see an enemy is scary!

Like the person who was “IT” in my childhood game, the coronavirus can’t be seen unless you have a powerful microscope. Though unseen, it is there.

Every time I leave the house, I wonder, “Will the virus pop out and infect (tag) me if I visit someone who has the illness before having symptoms? Worse yet, what if I already have the illness without symptoms and I give it to (tag) the person I visit. What if that person dies from IT?”

My childhood games of tag did not carry life and death results, but I suspect my older siblings looked out for me, knowing my dread and making sure I was never caught taking my 7th step. I don’t remember ever being tagged “IT”.

Time passes quickly when a good game is afoot! Here are a few links for game ideas “Shelter in Place” families can do:

AllTrails A collection of hiking path maps. You can type in the name of a destination to find maps, photos and reviews.

America’s Test Kitchen: Kids Instructions on art projects, basic food preparation and fun recipes.

Live Berkner Breaks Musician Lori Berkner performs on Facebook Live most week day mornings at 9 a.m. Central Time.

Lunchtime Doodles with Mo Willems The award-winning children’s book author, Mo Willems, leads art projects weekdays at noon.



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