After racing through dinner and washing up this evening, I was whisked off to the playing fields behind the church hall the local Girl Guides meet in to take part in an evening of fun and games. I’ll be honest – I really didn’t want to go, and hoped the weather might save me (it had bucketed down earlier in the evening). It didn’t, and I’m kind of glad – because we did have fun.
Both of our younger girls are “Girl Guides” now. I guess for anybody reading this elsewhere in the world, they would be called “Girl Scouts”. They spend an evening with their “Patrol” once a week, and occasionally go on outward-bounds weekends, and earn badges for skills such as map reading, camping, sleeping under the stars, cooking – practical things.
Anyway. Tonight they gathered in the field behind their usual meeting place, accompanied by a rag-tag collection of Dads. A roll call was made, and I was kind of sad for a couple of the girls who didn’t have a Dad present – one was too busy with work, another didn’t know where her Dad was. I wondered if that was a cover story.
After a couple of minutes the mayhem began. And I mean mayhem, because everything became completely disorganised immediately. Teams were shuffled three times before anybody started doing any of the activities, and then shuffled again, because it became obvious the numbers wouldn’t work.
We played Dodgeball first – two or three Dads, and four or five kids per team. Nobody explained the rules clearly – it just kind of began, and we won more by cheating than playing anything properly.
Next up was a rather bizarre game where we had to wrap somebody in toilet paper, and then they had to run across the field. They would be judged before they ran for style, and then at the end based on how much of their costume remained. We won that. It was a stupid game though – three quarters of our team sat around while the single runner was prepared.
Next up was “Tug of War”. I thought I had mis-heard, because there was no proper rope – just a thin nylon rope you might use to secure a tent. No – they were going to use the thin rope. We lost the first pull, and I tore the skin open on my hand. The kids had the sense to let go immediately, but still hurt their hands. Then something happened that pissed me off. I tried to get the game stopped before anybody got badly hurt – and failed. They carried on regardless. One of the Dads – acting as anchor man – tied the rope round his clothes, and jumped up and down to rip the rope through the opposition’s hands. He thought it was funny. I was horrified.
There was an egg and spoon race after that. We all cheated spectacularly. Then a skipping race. We cheated at that too – mostly because the skipping ropes were the right size for a ten year old – not for an adult.
We were supposedÂ to take part in a “Welly Wanging” competition next – where teams took turns to throw a wellington boot as far down the field as they could as a relay. The “organisers” obviously didn’t count on how strong adults are, and scrapped the game after the first team tried. They almost ran out of field – we had warned them it would happen, but they carried on regardless.
As the final games came to an end, the weather finally turned – painting the sky dark grey, and causing a mass exodus towards the car park. On the way scores were read out, and the most ridiculous scoring mechanism possible added seemingly as an afterthought – if your Dad was present, you scored 2 points for your team. Way to go making the kids without Dads feel like utter shit.
Within minutes we were all on our way home, full of stories of injustice, cheating, and daring do. I didn’t tell my other half about the idiotic prejudiced scoring. I did turn to the kids though, and said “it wasn’t really important who won or lost, was it – we had fun”. Sort of.