The Inseparables

“Nobody is going to catch me now!”

My three children love to play tag. They call it “pica.” That’s what all the kids call it in Spanish here in Argentina, where we live.

It’s a favorite game.

Sometimes it starts a day of play. And at times it’s the fall-game. It’s what the kids and their friends turn to when other games have been exhausted.

But they play with relish.

Off they dart to hide and try to make it back to home base before the “it” can tag them physically or by yelling “pica” first.

It’s quite a challenge.

The “it” often guards home, making it hard to sneak past. The more adventurous “its” try to ferret out the others and tag them physically.

My youngest daughter, who is three, often struggles to keep up with the others, most of whom are five- to nine-year-old friends of her six- and eight-year-old siblings. Sometimes her struggles lead to tears and a face of despair when she is caught time and time again.

But she doesn’t get put off the game. She gets inventive.

She and her six-year-old brother were playing tag after the other kids had gone off to play something else. Her brother kept winning. So the youngest hatched a plan.

Off she darted…

… and back she came with her favorite toy cat.

“I know,” she told her brother on the patio of our house in a coastal pine forest, where we are spending the summer. “The cat will be it.”

Her brother, who was now sitting on his bike, looked a bit perplexed. But he went along with the game.

“Ok,” he said.

The youngest put the cat at home base and dashed off to hide.

Then her brother started to count to 10 – in the voice of a cat.

The youngest hid behind a tree and snuck a peek at home. The cat was looking the other way. So when the counting was over she made a dash for home.

I watched my son. He was about to yell “pica” in the same cat voice to catch her sister before she reached home. But he kept his mouth shut. And the youngest reached home and shouted “PICA” triumphantly.

She smiled broadly and her body quivered with delight as her brother watched on, still slouching on his bike.

Then he resumed his cat voice and said, “Again?”

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