“El Juego del Lobito” (“The Wolf Game”)- Children’s Game

*Originally spoken in Spanish. The following is a rough translation. 

Description (From Transcript): “A bunch of kids, we would make a circle and we would choose one person in the center of the circle and the “wolf” outside the circle. And we would start moving in the circle and singing the song “Jugaremos en el bosque, mientras que el lobo no esta, porque si el lobo aparece a todos nos comerá.” (“We will play in the forest while the wolf isn’t here because if the wolf appears, he’ll eat us all”), and then we would pause and say “Lobo, estas ahi si o no?” (“Wolf, are you there, yes or no?”), “Sí aquí estoy” (“yes, I am here”), and we would ask “what are you doing?”, and the wolf would say, “I’m showering”. Then we would start moving in the circle again, and so on. And when the wolf was done getting dressed, (each time he would say what he was doing) he would say, “I’m gonna eat you all” and we would run! We would all run and whoever he caught had to be the wolf next, until we were done with everyone. I guess just until we were bored”. 

Context: TR is a Mexican woman, born and raised in Zacatecas, Mexico. She immigrated to the United States in 1995. She would play this game in her hometown when she was a child. Her and her neighbors would get together when they were children and they didn’t have much else to play with. They would play a lot of rondas, games such as this one where children would stand in a circle and do some kind of call and response. Some of the games had losers and winners. 

When asked about her children knowing the game now, she responded that her son didn’t know or play the game, and her grandchildren will probably not know it either. However she accepts this reality because times are changing. Her grandmother and mother also played this game. She explains how many generations played rondas infantiles until electric light was introduced to these rural communities, at which point many children just wanted to watch TV. 

My interpretation: This game is heavy on contact, communication, and movement, all characteristics that explain why they were so heavily used in rural Mexican communities, where children didn’t have much else to play with or do. Because these virtues are instilled in children at a young age, the people in these communities remain close as adults and emphasize activities such as play, dance, and music. This game in specific is very telling of how fear is a motivating emotion from a young age. Oftentimes, these communities are low on resources and high on crime, a difficult lesson to learn as an adult. But here, children learn to be attentive, stick together, and outrun danger, all while maintaining youthful qualities like joy, movement, and competition.