You should be playing Four Square during quarantine.
No, not just your ten-year-old: you, too. On the off chance that you dropped this game out of your life with Shel Silverstein and McDonald’s birthday parties, I’m about to convince you to bring it back. This driveway game is a Patterson quarantine staple. Play for five minutes or 45 minutes with the satisfaction of screaming out your frustration as you dominate the A-square. (Warning: Kids might cry a little, but still worth it). Four Square is a must-do quarantivity.
- All you need is a ball. A bouncy playground ball is best, but any ball that bounces will do—basketball, volleyball, or soccer ball. Try a tennis ball for a real challenge.
- Social distancing is built right in. Draw big squares with a piece of chalk (or just use the actual lines of any pavement), and no one will ever come within 6 feet of another. Neighbors can even walk over and safely join the game.
- Frustrated competitive urges are satisfied. No sports? No teams to follow? No problem. Your new goals are dominating the A-square, targeting your roommate for the kill, practicing your trick bounce, and taunting your little sister.
- You can play with a beer in your hand. You’ll lose, but you can. And that’s a plus.
Here’s a good description of the rules as a refresher. If you happen to have kids that play this at school, they might tell you there are add-ins like “Black Magic” or “Cherry Bomb” or “Jackpot.” We say no to those and play straight up (mostly because the adults can never remember what they mean), but you do what you want.
One note: You should prepare yourselves for the classic “you’re out!” squabbles even from the grown-ups. We recommend the following: The next person waiting outside the game to come in is the line-judge. Whatever they say goes. If there is no line judge, then we grant controversies a re-do because someone (ahem…Bill) will start yelling at people shortly into the complaining. (And also—who cares? We’re playing a driveway game). About half our games blow up in a “who’s out?” type controversy, but hey, then we have the chance to practice good conflict resolution. (Like the time I may or may not have kicked the ball across the street in a display of truly poor sportsmanship). Seeing an adult apologize for bad behavior is good for everyone.
Right now, you need to be a little more fun and have a little more fun. The book in the Bible called Ecclesiastes was written by a guy who was pursuing the meaning of life and tried it all. His wisdom tells us there is “a season for every activity” (3:1). Well, this is your season for Four Square. He also says that “nothing is new under the sun” (1:9). If that’s true, then you’re not really missing anything if you take a 20-minute break for a quick game. The writer’s repeated conclusions throughout the book are things like, “I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.” (Ecc 3:12). Let’s try a little happy today. It’s in short supply right now. Just trust me on this one: Four Square for the win.