Tag Archives: imagine

Beetle on a String – Mayate Verde en Hilo

Informant: My informant is my Mexican mother, who grew up in Puebla, Mexico. While she stayed with her mom for about 16 years before coming to the U.S, she grew up very poor. Therefore, throughout her childhood, she never really had any toys to play with. It was up to her and her siblings to create ingenious ways to create games. My mom explained that one of these games included the following. 

Main Piece: “Creciendo pobre siempre nos inventábamos juegos que no necesariamente involucra tener un juguete. Por ejemplo unos de esos juegos no tiene nombre pero básicamente es encontrar un mayate verde. O, en otras palabras, es un escarabajo que esta casi igual que el size de la pulagade de tu dedo o mas grande.  Después atrapar uno agarras un hilito y lo amarras alrededor del cuerpo del mayate. Y listo!! Tienes un mayate que te guíe. Si usabamos la imaginacion Nosotros usabamos nuestra imaginación y pensábamos aveces que eran hadas o cometas!

Translation: “Growing up poor, we always made-up games that didn’t necessarily involve having a toy. For example, one of those games, which has no name but basically, it is to find a green mayate (beetle). A beetle that was about the same size as the inch of your finger or larger. After catching one, you would grab a little thread and tie it around the mayate’s body or leg. And ready!! You have a beetle to guide you and that you could fly.  If we used our imagination, we would see these beetles as fairies or kites! 

Context: My mom explained that she usually performed this game in the 1980’s whenever she was by herself between the ages of 5-10 years old because it was the best way to entertain herself. It was easy to just let oneself engage in their imagination when being so young. Just as her mom taught her how to tie a beetle on a string for entertainment purposes, she also taught her siblings how to engage in this game. 

Analysis: I think this game really portrays the innocence of children. As an adult some might see this as practice as wrong because they are hurting the beetle. However, if one puts themselves in the shoes of a poor child, I don’t think these children would have any bad thought/bad intention when it comes to trapping a beetle for a little fun. It’s not like they are torturing the beetle. In fact, I think it’s very ingenious of them to have come up with this game. This practice/game itself demonstrates just how intelligent children are, and how our imaginations can become so powerful. I think it’s a beautiful practice that siblings pass on these customs/games in order for their siblings to have the best childhood despite the challenges that they and their parents might face.

Imagine you are in a Brick Room


Informant (R): I also used to do a bunch of riddles and stuff, like while hiking at summer camp, you know?

Collector (J): yeah, yeah, that was fun!

R: My favorite was the brick room one.

J: oh yeah, that one messed with me as a kid, I felt so dumb because I couldn’t figure it out.

R: I mean, it was hard!

J: How did it go again?

R: Ok, so imagine you are trapped in a solid brick room, with no windows, no doors, nothing. You have a single piece of rope and a paper clip and a note that says you must escape the room or you’ll die. How do you get out?

J: I mean, I know the answer, but can you say it?

R: Yeah, so I said imagine you’re in the room. Stop imagining.

Context: Both R and J went to summer camp together. They were recalling old games and riddles for the sake of this collection. R learned this riddle from a camp counselor who repeated this riddle while hiking with younger campers.

Analysis: As other riddles are, this riddle contains insider information for those who know the answer to the riddle. Those who “play the game” of trying to solve it are typically misguided and attempt to find ways out of the room with the rope or other tools. Depending on the performance, the “clues” to escape change, keeping those attempting to solve the riddle on their toes. However, those who know the riddle are quick to remember the keyword “imagine.”