*The "Lost Game"*
By: Rhubarb
02 January 2007

When our children were young (7-9) and we lived in an average-sized city, we became concerned about them being in a situation where they were lost or one that involved a stranger abduction (however remote that might be). If they were ever in that situation we wanted them to have a chance of getting home, or at least get to help. So in addition to talks about who to trust, whom to go to when in trouble, etc., we began playing a new “game” every couple of weeks. It started by having them direct us home from places we commonly went--grocery store, church, school, soccer fields, friends’ houses, etc. We would pause at each intersection & they would tell us which way to go.

We then progressed to areas of town they didn’t know, still telling us which way to go at every intersection. They quickly learned that you kept going until you reached a busy street and, using visual clues, continued on that until you reached something familiar. We made the game harder by progressively adding more hurdles, i.e. having them alternate turns at intersections, having only one child do it at a time, losing ourselves in suburbs of cul-de-sacs, and eventually doing it all at night. With their eyes closed, we took them to areas that we, as adults, had never been in and just drove around trying to get lost. Within a matter of a few months, our children could go anywhere in our city and get home easily.

A side note: When they got to driving age we were absolutely floored to discover that they (and all of their friends, particularly the boys) had no idea of the names of the streets in their own neighborhood, much less those around town. Knowing that, I would have included street names in the advanced version of “the game.”

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