Rafi has a friend whose name is Noya. He calls her “Annoya,” but he doesn’t think she’s annoying; it just comes out that way. They were Shabbat Abba and Shabbat Ima together at gan, and they often come to the same playground as we do on a similar schedule. Unfortunately, she doesn’t like how he plays at the playground.

First Rafi tried to play “follow Noya around.” She didn’t like that.

Then he tried to play “I’m a scary tiger.” She didn’t like that.

Finally he tried to play “chase Noya.” She especially didn’t like that.

Noya’s older sister, who is maybe seven, asked me what they were playing. I said he was trying to catch her. She thought about that for a few seconds until light dawned.

“Oh!” she said brightly, “They’re playing tag!”

And then it hit me: that was the problem. Rafi was not playing tag; he was playing “Rafi chases Noya until she gets tired and begs for him to stop.” But for some reason it took being hit over the head with a clue-by-four for me to realize that I needed to explicitly tell Rafi to take turns.

So Rafi took off, thinking his friend would be on his heels. But by the time she got around to chasing him, he had gone up a ladder, feinted a descent down the slide, gone back down the ladder, and circled around the play structure.

At least it gave her a break.


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