Sunday, October 23, 2011

a game in a game

The girls are playing. Una is a dog. She has bunches in her hair for ears, and a scarf stuffed into the back of her tights. Fred wants to join the game. She gets the stethoscope from the dress ups. She's the vet.

But Fred the vet is bossy and interventionist, and it was Una's game. Una comes to us. "I don't want Fred to be the vet, I just want her to be normal." By normal she means she wants Fred to be a dog too. 'I'll play my own game,' Fred says. Una wants Fred to play, she just doesn't want Fred to be a vet. This is an ongoing daily drama. Fred running from every disagreement with a quick and cutting 'I'm not playing!' and Una's copious tears. Martin starts to intervene. That way madness lies. He gives up. Fred goes down to the bedroom and comes back with an armful of stuffed toys which she dumps on the ground.

'I know!' Una offers. 'Fred could be a dog playing a game that she's the doctor. It could be a game in a game.'

Her words give me a shiver. A game within a game. A story within a story. A girl within a girl. Are metatexts are as primal as stories themselves - peeling back layers and layers of reality and illusion? Or is this trickery learned? Putting one Russian doll inside another, another doll already concealed inside the first.


  1. Raeli and Jem have been playing dog ALL DAY! Two year old Jemima now only answers to 'Dogg-Dogg'. Raeli agrees this will be embarrassing in public.

    On the bright side, Raeli has taught her to do ALL MANNER OF TRICKS. I'm quite impressed with them both.

  2. Layers within layers and games within games dominate our lives. Sadly. Makes me shiver too Pen. I know that you've thought, and written :), a lot about this, but it's one of the things about the human psyche/mind that really messes with me. While I love the depth and capacity of the human mind, I don't like how it messes with other people's minds. And sometimes I don't like the complexity so much. I don't have time to think things through from 5000 different angles......trying to find the truth.

    I think it's a nature/nurture debate Pen. We learn ways to be kind to people we love by changing what we want, by changing who we are, by changing what we do. So the real girl/game/story is always there, but so are the layers. Sometimes, sadly, we got lost in them. And sometimes they are a wee bit Machiavellian ;).

    I think Una was doing her best to include her much loved sister in the game. She was being kind. Bless her.
    lots of love to you and your darlings xxxx

  3. oops, that was Kath, not Mark. I didn't realise he was still logged in. Didn't realise he had a google account in fact! Wish he'd use his own computer.........;)