The Games We Play
The TALE: Tehachapi Art, Literature and Entertainment
May 27, 2023
In the time before hand held tech games and easy computer access, children used their long summer days indulging in simple games. Bare feet running through the warm grass, they would form opposing teams, winding their arms around each other in a human rope, then call "Red Rover, Red Rover, let Timmy come over!" Timmy would run as hard as he could toward the human wall and try to hit the arms loose to make a break in the line. If he succeeded, he went back to his own team. If unsuccessful, he would have to join his rivals. There was much laughter with occasional bruises and arguments, but mostly good clean fun.
Have parents and grandparents passed down the nostalgic old games from their childhood? I still hear the yell of "Marco" with the return call of "Polo" when near a neighborhood pool full of giggles and laughter. But if a group of kids walking down the sidewalk encountered an empty tin can, would they take turns kicking it down the road? Do kids learn how to play "Red Light Green Light" in pre-school when learning the safety measures of red you stop, green you go? The book "Red Light, Green Light" by Michael Taylor is an updated version explaining the game, just in case, for families and teachers.
Tag is not just a way to get kids moving and use up their energy. The game is actually a good example of the smooth exchange of power, where you can be the chaser in charge, then with a touch on the arm, pass that honor to the next kid. Jannesy Dilson's book "Tag, You're It" also teaches that those with disabilities can be included, leaving no one out of the fun or power position.
Did you know that there are over 150 jump rope chants? Gather ropes for family and friends and have a jump off challenge! The book "163 Jump Rope Rhymes'' by Nona Kid makes exercise fun while memorizing jingles, exercising both mind and body simultaneously.
In 1958, Hula Hoops by the Wham-O toy company became all the rage. Kids lined up on our main street for a hula hoop challenge covered by local news stations. Beginners learned to keep the hoop spinning around their waist without falling, while experienced hula hoopers did all sorts of tricks, spinning the hoops around arms, necks and transferring them from one foot to the other. Thelma Lynne Godin wrote "The Hula-Hoopin Queen," celebrating family and community in Harlem. The whole neighborhood comes down with the hula hoopin-itch.
"Hopscotch Around the World" is the theme of Mary D. Lankford's children's book. All you need is some chalk, a space to draw out the classic squares and a rock to be used as a marker. This timeless universal game of childhood entices both young and old. Hopscotch squares become irresistible on city streets.
The game "Marbles," by Joanna Cole and Stephanie Calmenson, offers 101 ways to play. Don't forget to add the skill of Jacks or dramatically flinging kids as frozen Statues across green lawns to the "play" list. Finally we come to the game Hide'n'Seek. Used as the title for many picture books and even a James Patterson thriller, this multi century old game is still going strong as a favorite for every season. It needs no tools, just space and a seeker who covers his eyes while others scatter in all directions to search for a good place to hide.
As a child, we played the game both inside and outside, during daylight hours into twilight and darkness. My best memory was a warm summer night when parents set out lawn chairs in front yards and kids scattered up and down the dark street taking turns hiding and seeking. Suddenly the parents called all the kids together and set us down in their chairs while they became the giggling, running and chasing participants. It was such fun seeing our fathers making a mad dash to tag safe and our moms squealing wildly trying not to be caught. Good times!
A great summer is one where memories are made, both extravagant to the simple. Be creative. Don't forget the old games. And remember to play no matter the age of your skin. Remaining young at heart simply requires joy!
Good Books. Good Reading.
*Midge Lyn'dee is a fictional character used for the purpose of entertainment though the reviews are real and sincere.