Dating : Hopscotch

h2>Dating : Hopscotch

When a child’s game is more than just a game

Bill Adler
Image public domain, courtesy of, modified from original.

id you buy Ella an hourglass?” I asked. I didn’t think a breakable glass object was a good toy for a nine-year-old.

“She has an hourglass?” My wife shrugged. “Not my doing. Maybe she traded one of her dozen pandas for it.”

I padded upstairs and knocked on Ella’s door. “Enter,” she said. She was fiddling with a foot-tall hourglass enclosed in a wooden, three-column frame engraved with wild animals. Luminescent turquoise sand flowed from one bulb to the other.

“Are you timing something?” I asked.

Ella studied the hourglass. “Nope. I mean, yup. I’m watching the sand, Daddy.” She held the hourglass to her ear. “It sounds like a wind chime.”

“How’s it going?”

She pursed her lips. “It’s almost time.” She ran her fingertips along the side of the glass. “Maybe another few minutes.”

“Where did you get the hourglass?”

“Magda gave it to me.”

“Who’s Magda?” I thought I knew all of Ella’s friends.

“She’s my hopscotch friend.”

I sat next to Ella on her bed. “Is Magda a new neighbor or a kid in your class?”

“Nope.” Ella glanced up. “I have a playdate with Magda soon.” She opened her eyes wide and offered me her puppy dog face. “Can I go outside and play hopscotch, please?”

I looked out the window. Ella’s hopscotch board, a quilt of dayglo red, yellow, purple, green, and orange chalk lines forming squares with the numbers one to ten inside, occupied the pavement in front of our house.

It was time to do my parental due diligence and learn more about Magda. “Where does your friend live?”

“Herstmonceux Castle.” Ella beamed. “Yay, I said that right. I’ve been practicing!”

“I see.” I leaned toward Ella. “And where is Herstox Castle?”

“Herstmonceux, Daddy. It’s brand new.”


“It’s in East Sussex, where Magda lives.”

Who can defeat a child’s indefatigable logic? Fine. I’ll just keep an eye on her while she and Magda play hopscotch.

I glanced out the window, but nobody was there.

“When is Magda arriving?”

“She doesn’t come to me, Daddy. I go to her.”

I narrowed my eyes.

“If Magda and I jump on the exact same hopscotch squares at the same time, I go to her castle. That’s why she gave me the hourglass, so we can hopscotch together. The first trip was by accident, but now we know how. Her castle is amazing! There’s a moat with a bridge and everything. Magda’s older brother is a knight!” She held the hourglass with the now empty upper bulb to the light. “I have to go, Daddy.”

I watched Ella from the window. She waved to me and then jumped through several squares, landed on the ten, and vanished.

I snapped my phone out of my pocket and summoned Wikipedia.

Herstmonceux Castle’s construction began in 1441…

I pressed my head into my palms and tried to extract a memory that didn’t exist. What squares did Ella jump on, and in what order?

What do you think?

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