Small spaces are a little boy’s enemy.
I base this on the fact that I am a recovering little boy, and most every time I got in trouble as a kid, it was when I was in a confined space. A classroom. A church pew. The trunk of my parents’ car, which I still maintain was not SPECIFICALLY cited as a place I could not play.
The point is, little boys need room to roam, particularly if there is more than one in the vicinity.
My nephews are seven, and my son is 11. When they are together, the more closed in the space, the better the chance for things to go south. This can be because they have had so much tight quarters that they were able to collaborate far too in-depth and turn Grandma’s couch cushions into an impromptu vault. Or it can be because they are boys who spent far too much time together, and someone that close is getting either a wet willie, a wedgie or both.
Recently, I decided to make a preemptive strike on closed quarters. We were at my parents’ house, as we often are in the evening. We are fortunate to all live close by and be able to visit on a very regular basis. That said, sometimes togetherness can be your enemy, in particular with little boys.
I decided to make a scavenger hunt for my nephews, subtly entitled “The Nick and Sam Super Time Awesome Amazingly Impossible Scavenger Hunt Extravaganzafest.” Parker would serve as the official referee and hunt assistant. Parker asked me why he couldn’t do the scavenger hunt, and I told him that it was geared for little kids, and he would have far more fun overruling their finds. I mean, helping them find stuff. Yes. That. Prior to the start, I told the boys that Parker would be their guide on this journey, but should any disputes arise, I am the Supreme Emperor of Awesome. Because that’s how Uncle Mike rolls.
The list was a fairly straightforward one. There were two categories — 10 point finds and five point finds. The 15 10-point finds were things you could find in the backyard — a feather, a clover, an acorn. Same with the 20 items on the 5-point list. A mushroom. Something green. A rock.
But I added in some other finds that aren’t traditional on a scavenger hunt. On the 10-point list, I included:
- A live vertebrate (you don’t have to catch it, and it can’t be a human)
- Something from Grandma’s house that shouldn’t be outside (amnesty was in place if you were responsible for bringing out said item)
- A stick that is longer than your arm but shorter than your leg (just to watch them try and measure that at the same time and, possibly, fall over)
The hard-to-find items on the five point list included:
- A live invertebrate (you do have to catch it)
- A stick shorter than you, but taller than Parker (just to watch the wheels turn)
- A stick shaped like a letter (it only took until almost the end for me to say, “Guys, what’s an ‘i’ look like? How about an ‘l’? Stop looking for Qs and Xs.”
The boys spent the better part of an hour diligently focused on their quest. At the end, I had both boys tally their scores on their official scorecards. They’re out of first grade now, so it’s time to use math in real-world applications. Nick had a lot of hash marks on his. Sam had drawn what I think is an alien and said, “I lost count.”
Parker and I assessed the tally sheets and declared the scavenger hunt a draw. I did not do this so that “everyone’s a winner.” Rather, I did this so we can have another scavenger hunt in the near future, when the walls are closing in and little boys need to run free.
And I can do that. Because I am, after all, the Supreme Emperor of Awesome.