I might feel ageless most of the time, but there are days when I feel older than dirt, one step away from waving my cane in the air. Just last week I caught myself shaking my head and muttering, These kids today… If that’s not a sign of old age, I don’t know what is.
The most recent event happened last week when I was sitting on McD’s patio enjoying a nice, refreshing iced tea. Mama and two kids–boy and girl, ages approximately 9 and 6, respectively–came out to the patio so that Mama could enjoy a nice, loud phone conversation and leave the kids to entertain themselves. Unfortunately, these kids had no idea what to do with themselves on this nice big patio.
Mama, Mama, can we go to the other one, the one with the playground?
Mama, can I get my game out of the car?
Mama, Mama, when are we gonna leave?
Mama, we don’t got nothing to do.
Pity I didn’t have my Strunk & White handy for a little lesson in grammar. (Does S&W have a junior edition? If not, they should.)
Anyway, the whole episode struck me as a sad indicator of the apparent passing of my favorite childhood games. No matter where we were, my sister and I, along with any friends who happened to be around, could entertain ourselves playing Freeze Tag, Leap Frog, Follow the Leader, Hide and Seek, or Mother, May I? All very active games, which we were encouraged to play (when appropriate), not because of the health benefit but because it would possibly make us go to bed earlier.
The little boy eventually got up from the table and began walking along the top of a low brick wall. His younger sister promptly followed. When he jumped off the wall (which he did at random intervals and with accompanying acrobatic maneuvers), his little sister attempted to emulate. Ah, an impromptu game of Follow the Leader, I thought, but then the little boy pushed his little sister off the wall and told her to quit following him. She started bawling (loudly), and as I was gathering my things to leave, Mama was yelling at both of them, “Sit down and be still!”
This little scene has stuck with me. Given the current weight problems many of our kids are experiencing, are we doing enough to promote exercise, and not only team sports, but everyday movement–the kind that’s just for fun? Are we too far gone for “old-timey” games like Red Light, Green Light, Simon Says and Red Rover?
Do your children, grandchildren, nieces & nephews play actively? Are they waiting for you to show them some cool games to play? And what were your favorite games when you were a kid?
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