Wherever it was, it was presented in an educational context. The Quiet Game is what I’ve been calling it. I use as a way to teach young children how to settle down. I have used it on and off, depending upon whether or not there is an older toddler/young preschooler in my life. Here’s the method:
* The game can eventually be played anywhere, but the home is a good place to introduce the concept.* Choose a time that might be quiet anyway, such as early morning, just after a meal, or before bedtime.* Announce, “We’re going to play The Quiet Game now. Let us sit here, as still and as quietly as we can. Don’t talk, yet. Just listen.”* Allow a few moments - or a minute - of silence, depending upon the age or ability of your child.* Ask the child, in a soft voice, what sounds she notices. I’ve had the most energetic child speak in a soft voice, telling me of the sounds she notices when practicing a purposeful silence. In the home, this is usually the humming of the refrigerator, the rumble of the washing machine, or lawn care sounds in the neighborhood. At the park, it’s usually birds, cicadas, cars, or planes.* On a ‘wild day,’ The Quiet Game might not last very long. On a quieter day, it comes to an end in a gentle sort of way: children drift off into a calm play time or a child asks to be read to.
The best part is when The Quiet Game gets transferred to places where you’d like to experience quiet, such as church. A child who can do The Quiet Game can be trusted to attend Adoration, even if just briefly. I rejoice (silently) when a little person will ask to play the game without my prompting. My now-two-year-old has taken to asking before the start of Mass, but also at times where she and I are sitting alone out of doors. It shows me that, on some level, she is recognizing that certain atmospheres are better than others for entering into meditative moods.
A funny warning: a few weeks ago, my little one who still has quite a bit of trouble making it through Mass whispered to me before the start of Mass, “Can we play The Quiet Game?” I obliged, happily, and we started. Well, it turns out that the time before Mass is not as quiet as I thought. No, we do not attend one of those chatty-in-the-sanctuary churches, but there is not a pure silence. My daughter kept sharing the sounds she could hear in the quiet: Someone coughed! I heard a baby! Someone banged a kneeler! The door is opening again!