Playground Rules

Playground Rules are those rules that you knew intuitively as a child, and if you didn’t you got your butt kicked by the other kids. Things like “Never cut in line at the slide, unless you won’t get caught” (rule #25) or “General Alarm sounds the moment the Ice Cream Man is sighted” (#12) were rules we lived by as children. We had rules for siblings, rules for neighbors and rules for kickball. These rules were in effect all the time with specialized rules for every location, not just in the playground, but at home, at school and on vacation when you run into new children. These rules enabled us to play effectively and safely with children all over the country when our parents took us on cross-country road trips.

The number one rule applied all the time: All things must be fair. Defining fair was left to the situation or who had the biggest and strongest older brother, but one thing we all agreed on, if your Mom was bringing cupcakes to class for your birthday she had better bring one for each child, OR ELSE! This is a good rule, and every parent with a 6 year old knows they had better get an accurate head count and prepare extra in case of tipping and disaster. Only an act of God, and it had better be a doozy, could be an excuse. And even then, it’s better that Mom doesn’t show up at all.

Apparently no one informed St. James and LaDonna Davis that this rule also applies to Chimpanzees. Last week the couple were bringing a cupcake to their chimp, Moe, for his 39th birthday. Two other chimpanzees freaked out when they didn’t also get cupcakes, broke out of their cages and severely mauled Mr. Davis. Mrs. Davis also sustained injuries. Analysis of this attack by an animal expert in the Washington Post confirmed what any six-year old could have told you, Buddy and Ollie were ticked because they didn’t get any cake. Mr. Davis lost his nose, testicles and one foot in the attack. Apparently Chimpanzees have a highly defined sense of fairness. You would think that after living with one for all those years they might have understood that.

(Their pet, Moe, had been confiscated in 1999 because he bit off part of the finger of a neighbor, BTW)

So now you know. Remember your playground rules, they may save your life, and your nose, feet, fingers…

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