We had lunch at a local favorite restaurant today. There is a green at the back where people roam and children play. In the summer they show old movies on the white painted brick of one of the buildings. There is a stage for concerts. We often see young teens skateboarding down the stairs of the stage giving us momentary heart failure as we are sure they will break a leg. They don’t. Skateboards were not part of my play time when I was a child. I did have a bicycle. As far as I am concerned, every kid needs a bike. I wonder, sometimes, if I could still ride one. My daughter assures me I could. Who knows. It has been many years.
We watched some kids jumping rope on the green, or rather the stage connected to the green. I think I can still recite some of the poems, and counting rhymes. I watched a newcomer approach the jumping rope as her head nodded up and down to the rhythm or the rope, waiting for the right moment to enter and jump. My own head nodded with her and I was saying to myself, “You can do it. You can do it… now, try now.”
I started thinking of the activities I did as a kid.
I remember roller skates. They were metal skates I clamped onto my shoes and wore the skate key on a string around my neck. I skated on the side walk and, when going down hill, I had to watch for the uneven bumps in the pavement and lift myself over them… or, once again, land on my knees and add more scabs to them.
I remember hop scotch where I chalked in the lines on the pavement and tossed a stone into a square and hopped on one foot or two through the maze. Does anyone play hop scotch any more?
I asked my husband what games he played as a kid and he reminded me of “Mother may I?” which for him was usually followed by hide and seek. “You may take three giant steps.” “Mother may I?” “No you may not. Simon says you may take one baby step.” (moan) “Mother may I?.” and when you reach the place where you are almost out of sight, you run and hide. That was his version.
The phrase ”Ollie Ollie in come free” echoes through my head when thinking of playing hide and seek. I Googled it and found interesting versions, spellings, and interpretations. (thank you Google)
The kids at the school where I was an aide played dodge ball. Back and forth they ran, trying to hit someone with the ball. It kept them busy and out of trouble until the school buzzer rang and they had to go inside and sit still and listen. I would watch carefully. I truly don’t recall anyone getting badly hurt or anyone who appeared to be a victim. I understand schools today have banned the game. I hope they have something else that can use up energy before kids have to sit at a desk and be quiet.
We had a bus driver at that school who was dealing with some really rowdy kids on his route. He set up a pact,”Sit still. When we get to school, I will take you on in basketball.” The bus arrived, parked, and the kids poured out of the bus and the game began. I watched. The buzzer was so close to ringing. I ran into the principal and told him to hold off ringing the buzzer for a little while. He did and we watched the challenge. It was a good game. Behavior on the bus improved.
A game my sister and her friends played was called “Truth, Dare, Consequences, Promise-or-repeat.” Talk about being a victim… I was the victim. I was the little sister who always wanted to play with them. They would let me, at least one time, if I agreed to play this particular game. I agreed. They were ten, I was eight. “Tell me the truth,” they said, “Have you ever kissed a boy?.”
That was easy. Of course not…
“Have you ever kissed your dad?”
“You didn’t tell tell the truth. You have to suffer the consequences.”
I had to kiss the little brother of one of the girls. Kenny was even younger than me. No way was I going to kiss Kenny.
The plot thickened, these three ten-year-olds had a scheme. They would have a wedding. I would be the bride. Kenny would be the groom. They wrote invitations. They invited the neighborhood. The event would occur in the side yard of one of the girls. My sister would be the minister. Several days went by as they worked on their plan.
I don’t really remember dreading this event, but it improved considerably when wedding presents arrived for me… the bride. A wonderful paper doll set. I loved paper dolls. I think the three girls that planned this event had not counted on this side of the event. Brides get presents. Ministers and bridesmaids don’t.
I wore a Sunday dress. Kenny looked pretty good too. My sister had the right documents to read. The other girls were bridesmaids in fancy clothes and carrying flowers. Then came that time in the ceremony that neither Kenny or I had really anticipated. “You may kiss….” Kenny grabbed me by the hand and pulled me around the side of the house behind some bushes. “If you won’t tell,” says he, “I won’t either.” We returned to the party and enjoyed cookies and lemonade. I wonder what happened to poor Kenny, railroaded into an early wedding.