Throwing Barney Down the Stairs

Danielle - Chattanooga, Tennessee
Entered on January 12, 2009
Age Group: Under 18

One of my earliest childhood memories involves a game my dad invented when I was around two years old. I would stand at the top of the steps and throw my Barney stuffed animal down to my dad who would stand at the bottom. Then he would throw Barney back up, and we would repeat the process. That’s it. It was a simple game. It had no rules, and it could last as long as we wanted it to last. Now that I’ve grown up somewhat, I’ve realized that games are one of the few things that I can say I truly believe in.

My life has been uneventful, which in many ways is good. I have experienced little tragedy. However, life is sometimes boring. School, sports, and other activities turn into a routine, and sometimes routines need to be broken. Games are great for breaking routines.

Throughout pre-school and the early years of elementary school, I spent much of my time playing make-believe games. I often invented imaginary adventures with my brothers and friends on Saturday mornings and after school. The best thing about playing make-believe was that I could be whoever I wanted to be. I wasn’t just a regular kid. I was a tiger or a mountain-climber or a girl stranded on a deserted-island.

As I got older, however, make-believe became less and less appealing. Reality sunk in, and gradually I began to understand that I would have to grow up someday. I would have to accept the world for what it was—not the action-packed place of books and television.

But accepting the “real world” didn’t mean I had to stop playing games. I love board games. I’m not ashamed to say I still enjoy Monopoly, Life, and Clue and would gladly sit down to have a family game night anytime.

I think games have pretty much kept me from going insane over the years. My brothers and I have literally dug chunks of skin out of each other’s palms slapping cards during games of Egyptian Rat Screw. My friends and I have ended every game of Catch Phrase rolling on the floor and giggling. I’ve played hours of Apples to Apples with a table full of adult relatives who had had slightly too much to drink. I’ve peed my pants from laughing while tangling myself into bizarre shapes during games of Twister with my cousins. I’ve learned how wise my grandmother is during games of Scattergories.

I think the reason I still play games is because I like to ignore the “real world” for a few minutes and be that person I was when I was little. I still play games because everyone can play them. For those few minutes, the only things that exist are me and the other players of the game. I can just sit there, laugh, and enjoy the presence of the people I truly care about. I believe in playing games because life can get pretty boring without them.