I asked one of my classmates about game she played as a child while waiting for class to begin.
Her: Okay, so, when I was in elementary school, and I must have been in 4th or 5th grade, one if those, I don’t know exactly, but it was when those people were still in school with me. We used to play a game. And I say that loosely, because there was no winning, really, it was just like something we would run around and do, ’cause like we had a big grass field that we could run around in and there was obviously kick balls and soccer balls and that stuff. So we called it “Pegging” and I don’t think, I don’t think we thought it was, ’cause I’ve heard like yucky references to what that is and I don’t think we knew that, and that’s why we called it that.
Me: ‘Cause you were in like 4th grade.
Her: Yeah. But, but like, I didn’t make that name up. Like someone else did. But We would run around and it was usually like the boys vs. girls, and it was me and another one or two girls against like three boys we would usually play with, and we would just try to hit each other as hard as we possibly could with a soccer ball. Like, we would throw it at each other, and that’s like the whole point of the game. And I think somehow we, ’cause I would talk to the girls and I would think some of us liked those boys.
Me: Oh, oh, oh.
Her: So I think there was a whole thing. I mean, We would hit hard. I mean we would have like welts,
Me: Oh, wow, yeah.
Her: And we realized we were doing that, and we wouldn’t do that anymore. And yeah, we used to do that when we were in 4th, 5th grade. It was like a form of courtship or something. Demented courtship. But like, well God, we would hit each other hard. Like, as I said, falling down would be normal after being hit.
This game was clearly a kind of courtship game. It was played between pre-pubescent children, who were just beginning the slow process of transitioning from a child into an adult. As it was played as boys vs. girls, it was a way for the girls (and possibly the boys) to “peg,” or “mark,” the boy/girl that they liked or had a crush on. How hard one could throw the ball could be seen as a posturing move, a show of strength, of accuracy, and perhaps even of the level of interest the person had for the target. Though much more painful than various other pre-pubescent “courtship” games, it is a game that lets children explore the new kinds of feelings for members of the opposite sex as they begin the transition into adulthood.