The Marble Game


Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for the children to be always and forever explaining things to them.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Last week I was hanging out with the kids at the orphanage while they were playing with marbles. They spread themselves out across the concrete porch and proceeded to play some type of game where you roll the marbles between the different players (although not always following the same rotation) and there was some sort of point system involved that I couldn’t quite understand. I finally sat down next to Zach (pictured above) and asked him to explain to me how one score points during this game. He tried explaining in English and when that failed he tried again in Kinyarwanda but it still didn’t make sense. I asked him if I could try playing to better understand the rules but I never sent the marbles in the right direction and they often went flying off the side of the porch and into the dirt. Zach would patiently fetch the marble for me and put it back into my hand as I tried over and over again to succeed at a game that appeared to follow no logical set of rules. Finally, with an exasperated sigh, he grabbed my hand led me to another spot on the porch. Thinking he was just assigning me a new position I sat down and was getting ready to play when he put his little hand on my shoulder and said sweetly, “Auntie Suzanna, you can watch from here, OK?”

I guess it truly is exhausting to always be explaining things to the grown-ups! 🙂


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