Once upon a time, in a world with rules that everyone was expected to follow, there lived a young girl by the name of Jasmine. To the untrained eyed, it looked as though Jasmine didn’t have that many friends. But, this wasn’t true. She did have friends, she just didn’t understand how to play any of the games that her friends were playing. Well, this might not be accurate, either. You see, Jasmine liked to think that she could understand how to play the games rather well, it was more that she didn’t understand why she should want to play those games in the first place.
It was the rules that concerned her. For example: Jasmine could be watching a group of students who all seemed to know that it was their job to run away and hide when a person turned their back to them and started counting backwards from 20. When the person counting backwards reached zero, it was then their job to try and find the people who had hidden themselves away, often in the most unthoughtful of spaces. Jasmine had trouble finding the reason for this whole activity and wanted to know when ‘finding someone’ had become an interesting game to play. Especially if they were standing in front of you some seconds ago and you deliberately closed your eyes, allowing them time to hide from you!
The rules the kids followed were not always the same, however, and there was usually another set of equally silly rules to follow if your heart desired. You might choose to follow the rules involving children running away from a person who appears to have some kind of invisible, contagious cooties. The cooties must not be very pleasant but, luckily, they were easy to pass on to another boy or girl simply by touching them. Jasmine thought this seemed particularly ridiculous as there were also invisible boundaries which you were asked to stop yourself from running over as well. Why not just run through the boundaries and away from the person with the cooties if you didn’t want them anywhere near you?
Then there were sports. Jasmine wanted to know at what point it was decided that there should be five or six or seven players on a team. She thought these numbers were quite ridiculous, as they very often allowed the other team to eventually run through and score some points. If stopping the other team from scoring was your main goal, why not just have enough team members to form a wall? If you didn’t have enough players on your team to form the wall, then you shouldn’t act so surprised or even disappointed when the other team scored a point or two.
Jasmine started to wonder if she preferred being by herself because she was worried about how seriously the kids could take the rules if she didn’t follow them. If she broke any of the rules, she might be in a great deal of trouble. Not, like, getting grounded or yelled at kind of trouble, but the kind where her friends don’t speak to her for a while. This was a risk most kids were willing to take, but not Jasmine. She would rather not be a part of the arguments and possible fights that took place once the bell went for the students to head back to class.
One day, Jasmine was sitting down watching the students smiling and laughing as they observed the unwritten rules everyone seemed to know, when a young boy named Mike came to see her. “Wanna play a game?” Mike asked. This caught Jasmine by surprise.
“I’m already playing a game,” she replied.
“OK. Well, what are the rules?”
“There are no rules.”
“So, if the rule is that there aren’t any rules, then doesn’t your game still have rules?”
Jasmine took a deep breath. “Look, why don’t you close your eyes and count backwards from 20 and, when you’re done, you can come and try and find me.”
“OK,” said Mike. “Sounds fun. 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15…”
Not mentioning any of the invisible boundaries in her rules, Jasmine was able to run and hide in a place where Mike would never be able to find her.