Ah, feel that nostalgia? We played this when we were young. In case you’ve forgotten, here’s a refresher.


In this game, designate one person as It. Everyone else sits in a circle.

Phase 1 - The Selection

It moves around the circle, tapping each person on the head. At the same time, It calls “duck” out loud.

At some point, It may decide to say “goose” instead, upon tapping a particular person’s head. If so, let the person tapped be the Goose, and Phase 2 begins.

Phase 2 - The Chase

It’s objective is to run one full circle and sit at the Goose’s location before Goose tags It, and vice versa.

If It suceeds, Goose becomes the new It. Else, It tries again. Whichever is the case, Phase 2 ends and Phase 1 restarts.

The Duck Pond - The Fall

Here in New Zealand, we sometimes play a variant of this game. When the Goose catches It, the Goose will become the new It and the old It sits in the circle in the centre. We used to call the inner circle with a special name: The Dirty Duck Pond. Those of us who sat inside might remember the temporary feeling of failure, like that when the sports team you so dearly support loses a game. But, it wasn’t the end, because as soon as the next It gets caught, that person swaps places with you.

Rejoice - The Recovery

You suffer earlier, but you recover earlier.

Without the dirty duck pond, the slowest kid will forever remain being It. Goose will always catch It, and the game will slowly degenerate into mere organised shaming, as It gets stuck being It. The kid will not realise at first, until it is too late.

As you can see, someone added a Dirty Duck Pond to the game. It’s a place that sounds bad and indeed inflicts a small dose of pain on the kid. Yet, this small and seemingly bad inclusion prevents a worse outcome.


From this innocent game comes a wise insight. (It also encourages people like me to make statements as cliche as this….) Life is filled with things that look simple, things that seem obvious, apparent in nature. However, never be surprised by the reality when you start questioning the truth.

For example, this blog is better than it looks.