On Hand Ball (or Calvinball as far as I can tell…)

My kids play a game called hand ball.  They learned it at school they play it with their friends, they play it with each other… they play it everywhere.  The thing is besides hitting it against the wall I cannot discern any consistent rule to the game.  They use terms like “bomber”, “super-bomber”, “tree-top”, “headie”, “wallie” etc… like they mean something… however I have yet to seen any consistent maneuver so as to identify what any of these individual terms are…

and yet they will play this game for hours if they could.

The only problem with that is that since I do not know the rules I cannot enforce them when their is a disagreement…

So I have tried to learn this game…  I have watched them play, I have asked them questions about how to play, I have tried to play it with them, and I have even done searches on the web to understand this game… all to no avail… the only game I can compare it to is Calvinball… the game that Calvin and Hobbes would play all the time. which usually ended in them fighting… not to dissimilar from how hand ball seems to be played…

I guess the good thing is that the kids are playing even if no one knows the rules and there is no discernible objective… they play together, they fight a bit, and maybe the goal is just to get the kids together… maybe we adults could take note maybe there doesn’t have to be rules and objectives… maybe we can be content to just be… even if it means we fight about it from time to time.

P.S. If you have never heard of calvinball here is a description of the game from the Calvin and Hobbes Wikipedia page followed by a Calvinball comic I found online:

The only consistent rule states that Calvinball may never be played with the same rules twice. Scoring is also arbitrary, with Hobbes at times reporting scores of “Q to 12” and “oogy to boogy.” The only recognizable sports Calvinball resembles are the ones it emulates (i.e., a cross between croquet, polo, badminton, capture the flag, and volleyball.) Equipment includes a volleyball (the eponymous “Calvinball”), a croquet set, a badminton set, assorted flags, bags, signs, a hobby horse, and enigmatic and never-pictured “time-fracture wickets.” Other things appear as needed, such as a bucket of ice-cold water, a water balloon, and various songs and poetry. Players also wear masks resembling blindfolds with holes for the eyes. When Rosalyn asks Calvin the reason for the requirement, Calvin responds, “Sorry, no one’s allowed to question the masks.” When asked how to play, Watterson states, “It’s pretty simple: you make up the rules as you go.” Calvinball is a nomic or self-modifying game, a contest of wits and creativity rather than stamina or athletic skill, in which Hobbes (and on one occasion, Rosalyn) usually outwits Calvin, who takes it in stride, in contrast to his otherwise poor sportsmanship.


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