Please, Can We Play Games?

Here, a recently completed graphic design project for the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America: Please, Can We Play Games? by Ruth Ker. The book offers the author’s forty years of creating, collecting, and playing traditional and original verses, songs, and games for early childhood circle time or home play. You can learn more on the WECAN website.


La Belle Lucie


I believe I have mentioned before that our family is hopelessly addicted to this form of solitaire, so much so that when we go on vacation we now take along FOUR decks of cards, in case we all happen to play simultaneously.

In case you don’t already know the game, this is how it is played:

Shuffle the deck well. Deal out the entire deck in triads of overlapping cards, so that you can read the value and suit of each, until you run out of cards. The last card will stand alone.

The object is to remove all the cards from the tableau one by one into the four suits, beginning with the aces and ending with kings. Only the top card of each set (and any card standing alone) is available for play. Aces are removed as soon as they are available and set aside to form the four foundations. On the top card of any set may be placed the next lower card of the same suit, in order to free up the card trapped beneath it. But only one card may be moved at a time.

When no more moves can be made, the tableau is gathered, reshuffled, and laid out in triads two more times. On the third deal, any one card (called the merci) may be pulled out and played. This is often necessary to win the game, because a king lying above a lower card of the same suit will trap the player.

Although there is obviously chance involved in the way the cards are dealt, there is a great deal of strategy necessary in this game, which is what makes it so much fun. And one can occasionally win—even without the merci. (Not this time, though.)


Father and Daughter

Here is a sketch from a past beach vacation, which is when our family customarily plays lots of card games. (We are all especially addicted to La Belle Lucie.) A doting father is so tolerant of a girl’s little foibles. Like cheating at Go Fish.

In honor of Ogden Nash (1902-1971), whose birthday it is today, I post his poem, “Song To Be Sung by the Father of Infant Female Children.” At one time my son wouldn’t have been amused by its depiction of boys. Now, as a big brother, he also has morphed into fatherly protective mode.


My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky;
Contrariwise, my blood runs cold
When little boys go by.
For little boys as little boys,
No special hate I carry,
But now and then they grow to men,
And when they do, they marry.
No matter how they tarry,
Eventually they marry.
And, swine among the pearls,
They marry little girls.
Oh, somewhere, somewhere, an infant plays,
With parents who feed and clothe him.
Their lips are sticky with pride and praise,
But I have begun to loathe him.
Yes, I loathe with loathing shameless
This child who to me is nameless.
This bachelor child in his carriage
Gives never a thought to marriage,
But a person can hardly say knife
Before he will hunt him a wife.
I never see an infant (male),
A-sleeping in the sun,
Without I turn a trifle pale
And think is he the one?
Oh, first he’ll want to crop his curls,
And then he’ll want a pony,
And then he’ll think of pretty girls,
And holy matrimony.
A cat without a mouse
Is he without a spouse.
Oh, somewhere he bubbles bubbles of milk,
And quietly sucks his thumbs.
His cheeks are roses painted on silk,
And his teeth are tucked in his gums.
But alas the teeth will begin to grow,
And the bubbles will cease to bubble;
Given a score of years or so,
The roses will turn to stubble.
He’ll sell a bond, or he’ll write a book,
And his eyes will get that acquisitive look,
And raging and ravenous for the kill,
He’ll boldly ask for the hand of Jill.
This infant whose middle
Is diapered still
Will want to marry
My daughter Jill.
Oh sweet be his slumber and moist his middle!
My dreams, I fear, are infanticiddle.
A fig for embryo Lohengrins!
I’ll open all his safety pins,
I’ll pepper his powder, and salt his bottle,
And give him readings from Aristotle.
Sand for his spinach I’ll gladly bring,
And Tabasco sauce for his teething ring.
Then perhaps he’ll struggle through fire and water
To marry somebody else’s daughter.

Ogden Nash