Pages

Monday, April 26, 2021

The Games of Childhood

Here is a bit of "growing sunshine" to brighten your morning. I think it is called Damianita Daisy. The blossoms are born on short, woody stems, and these plants are always in xeriscapes.

damianita daisy desert low shrub


The comments on the "Toad Catcher" and Mulberry Time posts got me to thinking. It is common now to think children don't play as we used to do. The world is certainly changed, and I can remember when childhood went from quite free to greatly curtailed, from considered safe to considered unsafe, when it went from outside exploring to inside lives, from being raised by family, usually mothers, to spending much of the waking hours in some sort of paid care.

I am not weighing in on judging it all, today. Rearview mirrors and rose-colored glasses are not reliable ways to view the world! What is that grammar joke? "We tend to find the past perfect, and the present tense"? I think both past and present have their good points and their bad. And I also think life is lived forwards, understood backwards.

But the children of today may be playing more old-time games than is realized.

The students at school line up by the front office on their way to the playground. Sometimes I can hear their conversations as they wait to file out. At school, they wear traditional uniforms and walk with their hands behind their backs, and wait with hands still clasped. And they chat about what they are going to be playing. 

Oh, it is so cute, their ongoing games. Last week among the "lower school" it was all talk of being Day Bats. Now, don't ask me, but it seemed to be they are different color bats, of different ranks. They are awake in the day and fix problem situations. I thought it was charming to hear them excitedly speak of moving up to be Blue Bats, or bemoaning dropping back down to an Orange Bat. I think it's based on the rainbow somehow.

When I go get the mail, I see also the little "houses" the even younger kids have created, out of the landscape rocks and the flowerbed bark. 

And I hear the old, old chants from childhood repeated now, fifty years later: Ring Around the Rosey, Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush, London Bridge. 

Grades 3 through 12 all have jump-ropes, too. The boys are as good as the girls at it. And they play tag a lot of the time. The big kids are not above chasing each other: Flirtation disguised as a slow game of tag.

Some of the kids are bookworms, of course! That was me, nose always in a book. And the students are reading the same series, the "classic" books! The horsey series by Walter Farley and Marguerite Henry; the Little House books; The Borrowers; The Witch of Blackbird Pond; On Your Toes, Suzie; and the late Beverly Cleary's books. All the old favorites are there.

Something I haven't seen, nor do the students seem to know about, is clapping games. Girls played a lot of clapping games at recess, played to a chant, when I was young. I can still recall some of them. Girls and boys alike played table-slapping games clear into college. 

When I was young, we played four-square in the street. It was probably our most favorite game in the preteen years. Mudpies was my absolute favorite as a younger child. We used the little foil tins from pot pies to hold our creations. Pot pies were a weekly meal for many of us, so there were pie tins galore.

The streets of suburbia were thronged with kids in those days! Kids were literally in the streets with the four-square games, or riding bikes, or digging up tar and popping tar bubbles during the summer. There was lots of roller skating and pushing box scooters along the sidewalks. I can, to this day, "skate" my block, remembering the idiocyncracies of every inch of sidewalk, and sometimes at night I return to that long-ago childhood and skate along in a sort of waking dream. I can see each house and recall every neighbor, yet I can not picture my current neighbors' homes in any detail. 

Housing was still being built apace during the Baby Boom, so there were lot-sized gaps along the route, and we'd run across those weedy areas with our skates still on. Skateboarding was not common in our area, and I didn't know of it back then.

Of course, we drew hopscotch on driveways and sidewalks, too, and girls played jacks, but by my childhood, jacks was waning in popularity so I didn't play it often. I was glad; my hands were so tiny I couldn't gather more than three jacks up. To a child's mind, it is important to win, or at least make a good showing.

So take heart; it isn't ALL video games and TikTok now. Some of the old games still survive. Can you recall games of your childhood? 

 .

28 comments :

  1. my grand plays 4 square and she builds fairy houses in the woods and around her house for the fairies to live in.
    But she does love video games her mom and dad restrict how long she has to play them
    Cathy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It sounds like your granddaughter is well-rounded, using both old games and new! I like some video games, too.

      Delete
  2. I dropped my dolly in the dirt...I asked my dolly did it hurt but all my dolly said to me was WHA WHA WHA! heehee! It's fun to think back. I loved jumping the rope and playing jacks...and everything! Thanks for the memories!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank YOU for the memory! I had forgotten that rhyme!

      Delete
  3. What we played at school - kick ball, a game where we threw the ball over the roof of a storage shed and if someone caught it run around the shed and chase us, eraser tag if recess was inside. That's about all that stuck in my head. At home, it was hide & seek, jump rope, jacks, pester sister until she hit me - games that could be played by myself or with one other person.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love your memories! Thank you for sharing them. What a clever game with the shed! I had forgotten Hide and Seek!

      Delete
  4. Yes, childhood has surely changed from when we were growing up. Children have computers and much technology, so on one hand, they are so knowledgeable, but I think sometimes that they are missing out on the simple things like building forts outside or simply making something cool out of cardboard boxes or doing art projects with simple colored construction paper. I'm glad you hear some of the children still saying the old chants from our childhood. Making mudpies when you were young sounds like so much fun. And don't get me started on Little House on the Prairie. I still watch the re-runs often haha.

    Have a splendid week, Holly.

    ~Sheri

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I loved the Little House books and anything related to them. There is loads of true lore to be had by reading them! I agree with your opinion, I do think the video games can be fun for them, but I wish they could be outside more (safely).

      Delete
  5. Thank you for this welcome post!!!!! Not all is lost, in childhood!

    What a marvelous private school you work in! Uniforms and rules about many things, I'm sure. Since they stand and wait, in a certain way.

    Gentle discipline never hurt any child. Those who still have it, are the lucky ones. So many, do not. -sigh-

    Again, thank you for this post!!!!!!!!

    πŸŒ·πŸŒΈπŸŽ€πŸŒΈπŸŒ·

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The kids can get silly, but I have never seen one act mean yet. They are being raised in an old-fashioned way and I think it is truly benefiting them.

      Delete
  6. What a lovely post . . . so many childhood memories of playing with friends. I just want to thank you for the comment you left on my blog. It is so encouraging and I am so very grateful for your blogging friendship and your prayers. Again, Thank You! Your comment brought with it so much comfort :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was such luck to find your blog! The sweet blogs are the bright spot in my day!

      Delete
  7. First of what you said here is what we play when I was young. Hopscotch was one of my favorites but I never did really good with jump rope because I have balance issues I had them then and I have them now. Good to hear that the children are playing the Old Time games and a lot of new ones that are just as good

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wasn't good at hopscotch but I played it alot. I was very bad at throwing the little rock to get to the next square!

      Delete
  8. Of course I remember. Several tag games, pum pum pullaway, Red Rover, kick ball, 4 square, hide and seek, kick the can, marbles, mumblety peg, jump rope, cat's cradle, jacks, pick up sticks, and so on. I have played most of them with my children and grandchildren. I was also a voracious reader. As you said things don't change they move on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's right, cat's cradle, I can still do a lot of string figures! I had completely forgotten!

      Delete
  9. I have spent my childhood in a boarding school, wearing a uniform navy blue and white. It was strict and not much place to play games but study.
    I did not very much enjoy that time...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am sorry to hear that, Catherine. A child should be allowed to have a child's mind and a child's emotions! I hope you have recovered from that unpleasant time.

      Delete
  10. I hear my grandson talk about playing 4 square at recess otherwise it seems to be all about video games.
    As a child I remember playing hopscotch and Drop the Hanky. Winters were long and cold so not so much games were played but sliding down any hill no matter how small and building snowforts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had forgotten Drop the Hanky! That was so fun! I am always amazed at how hardy kids are in the winter, how they will go sledding and do snow things even though they get so chilled!

      Delete
  11. ah, I remember the mud pies too, and 4 square I love that game too. 7 up and spud were played with balls. Jump rope, wish I could do that now. Chinese jump rope. Duck Duck goose...ah fond fond memories. Wouldn't change a thing growing up back in the day...Snowforts, and hopscotch. reading comments, the cardboard box, we would spend hours and hours...drinking out of the garden hose..my boys would just not get this at all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh gosh, that's right, I remember the JOY, absolute JOY, when someone would get a new fridge and we would get the box! And Chinese jump rope, I LOVED it!

      Delete
  12. My granddaughters played many clapping games. I was/am stunned at the complexity, and that they could remember.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I loved the clapping games. They are as much fun to watch as to play!

      Delete
  13. I am so sorry I haven't been around to visit. I was just too sick to sit for any length of time. Gosh Holly, I simply don't remember any of the games you discussed. I've heard of jacks, but never had any or played it. I have no idea where my childhood went, but we didn't read any of those stories, either. I feel like my childhood was so very different and wonder why I never experienced the same things you did, dear.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I forgot about these two, they arn't games, but never the less are wonderful memories. Playing house, dress up, and Barbies.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Did you ever play Chinese jump rope!?!! I recall that. And my roller skates were just that...you had to have a "key" to tighten/loosen.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hide and Seek. We sell Old Maid and Go Fish cards and Jump ropes and other children's games in our gift shop, so I know there are children in our area who are playing the same games I did. Great post! Janice

    ReplyDelete

Have a comment to share?