Psychic Cat’s Cradle

When my informant was in elementary school, the girls would play a form of cat’s cradle. They would take a circular string and form a cat’s cradle, then ask a girl to choose two fingers on either hand. When she removed those two fingers, the resulting formation of the strings would indicate whether the selector would have a male or female child in the future.¬†According to the informant, the outcome was always male because the resulting string configuration resembled a penis. It was considered a scandalous activity.

There’s a lot at play in this kind of children’s game. Firstly, it incorporates a game popular among young girls. Secondly, it attempts to predict the future, as children like to think about what will happen when they are older. Thirdly, there are stirrings of homeopathic magic, as the resulting configuration of strings resemble a specific genital formation of a male or female, and because the girl selected which fingers to pull to create that formation, it is connected to her in some way. The emphasis on a male result also engages in tabooistic discourse, as kids aren’t supposed to think about or talk about sex, or the genitalia of the opposite sex. Thus, this would be a very exciting game to play as it incorporates a lot of themes common in childhood.