Cady Gray came home today all excited. "Guess what I did at recess today?" she asked me. "I played tag with the boys! I played tag with the boys yesterday, too!" She went on to tell me which boys they were: I recognized several of the names as people she's identified as friends before, including one who lives in the neighborhood.
I get it. When I was her age, I was thrilled to be friends with the boys. That lasted my whole life, to the extent that I always felt more comfortable with guy friends than with girls. Up until now, I've been somewhat envious of her ability to make friends with other girls in her classes. They screech and giggle and run around just as girly as you please. But I've also always been glad that she takes pride in being not just a girl -- not just defined by pink and sparkly and frilly. She chooses to have a wide range of enjoyment -- things associated with girls, boys, and neither gender in particular.
But tag is an awesome game. And to be welcomed into somebody else's game of tag -- that's really special. I doubt that Cady Gray would be any less excited if a group of girls had asked her; in fact, she's told me with similar enthusiasm about rotations on the tire swing, games of pretend, and other activities that she's shared or joined with a variety of classmates.
I happen to be involved in a game of tag myself. For the fourth year in a row, I'm playing Dish Rag Tag, the exciting game of cotton yarn and serial knitting. A box travels from teammate to teammate around the country, with each person knitting a dishcloth from the same pattern for the person ahead of them.
I was tagged earlier this week and had to wait an agonizing three days for the Priority Mail box to reach me. Inside was the pattern and instructions, a ball of cotton for me to knit with, and a finished dishcloth for me to keep. It's also a tradition to tuck a few goodies into the box (which is tiny -- so it takes some creativity to choose the right items!) for the downstream knitter. Our team, Purls Gone Wild, has also chosen to have each member add some stickers for the organizer's young daughter and a magnet commemorating their location for the organizer.
If only my mail came earlier, I would have a shot at getting the box, knitting the dishcloth (about two hours' work) and mailing it on to the next player the same day. Alas, my mail comes at the end of the day, so I spent the evening leisurely knitting the pattern -- a round eyelet cloth called "V for Victory" -- and will mail it out tomorrow morning.
I almost didn't play Dish Rag Tag this fall because I was going to be traveling so many days out of the two months or so that the game lasts. But at the last minute, I just couldn't be left out. It took a lot of work for my team captain to accommodate my crazy schedule and create a tagging order that would get the box to me while I'm home, and I really appreciate the chance to be included. Last year I was a team captain, and my team formed an astounding bond of mutual support and enthusiasm; we still keep in touch.
In the end, I still love to be asked to play with others just as much as I did when I was a kid. And after years of playing with the boys, it's especially sweet to find common ground with so many wonderful women in this game.