"Want to play Los Soldaditos?" my little buddy asked. He grabbed the spiral Spiderman notebook and a pencil. He turned to a right-hand blank page. "OK, you draw about 4 little soldiers on different parts of the page, like this." He drew 4 stick-figure soldiers in strategic locations on the page.
"Then you make 2 or 3 little tanks, like this." He drew 2 small rectangles with little guns sticking out off of their sides. Satisfied, he looked up and said, "OK, you are the guerrillas."
He turned the page over and then turned another page. On the back side of the second page, my little buddy drew 4 stick figure soldaditos and 2 tanks in strategic locations. These were the "armed forces."
"Here are the rules," he explained, "each soldier or tank gets 3 shots. You take a quick look at the other person's page, then draw an arch to where you make your shot. Color really hard with your pencil to show where your shot lands. Then turn the page, and see the dent in the paper (this is the back of the opponent's drawing) and color that darker. When you look at the other person's page, you can see the mark through the paper and that is where your shot landed." His first shot took out one of my tanks. My first shot was a miss.
This game reminded me of Battleship. "Where did you learn this game?" I asked.
"I made it up," said my little buddy. He makes up lots of games. He entertains himself while his mom is at work. He has missed so much school because of gang harassment and moving around that he cannot re-enter school until the new year begins, and he will have to repeat this year.
"Good shot," he said, as he made an X over a tank I just hit.
We lobbed shots back and forth until I only had one little soldier left and three tries to hit his last tank and little soldier. "Let me help you," my little buddy said. He didn't want the guerrillas to lose. The armed forces made some bad shots so that the guerrillas could catch up. He took a bonus shot on behalf of the guerrillas, but when he missed he said, "Oops" (his new favorite word) and declared the game a tie. When he plays by himself, I think Los Soldaditos usually ends in a tie.
"Now let's play checkers!" my little buddy said. He turned to another page in the notebook...