I might have mentioned this before, but part of my job is being on lunchtime playground duty. This hour-long daily activity would be dramatically improved with a radical overhaul of the British weather system – but until such time, it largely involves multiple layers, sensible (and waterproof) shoes and a little bit of energy. One of the easiest ways to forget the blistering cold wind is to do as the children do and play!
Over the last few months I have become adept at playground classics such as hopscotch, four-square, skipping and various ball games. I have taught children the old elastic skipping games I used to play in the playground (such as England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales) and be taught new inventions like Time Bomb and Chalk Races. I have remembered the ease with which rules can change when you’re a child and the importance of a good sense of humour.
One of the more recent games which the girls are quite enjoying is Mandy Pandy. The basic premise is to get in a circle and repeat a little clapping routine with each other whilst chanting “Mandy Pandy, sugar and candy, can you do the splits?“. At this point in the song, everybody shouts yes and jumps to move their legs further apart. This continues until only one person is left, usually doing the actual splits (if you can’t spread your legs any wider you have to respond ‘no’ and then you’re out). This game is quite good fun when you’re about 8 and limber and wearing a school dress; the reality is not as pretty when you’re a bit older, wearing work pants and not as supple as you used to be! Needless to say, one fateful playtime saw me roped into playing Mandy Pandy for the last time. The pair of pants I was wearing that day were not made to move in the way required and when I started to feel the strain on the cotton I stopped, unable to move in any direction for fear of ripping my pants right down the middle! With a little help from the girls, I managed to get unstuck without any noticeable damage to my pants but I have not played Mandy Pandy as vigorously as that since.