Thursday, March 17, 2011

simple games

As I remember it, when we were kids we played games. Actual games, I mean, mainly in the actual outdoors. Kick the Can, freeze tag, jump rope, hopscotch. Just say the word "summer" and my mind goes straight to Night Games in the cul-de-sac with the entire neighborhood and every flashlight we could get our hands on. Or I think about making fishing poles in the gully (although I don't ever remember seeing a fish in that creek), or building things with my dad's tools and scraps from the wood pile. One winter we decided to put on an ice skating show in the backyard, and spent a week trying to ice over the porch, dutifully spraying it with the hose every night. Unfortunately the thin skiff of ice melted every day by noon, but we kept trying and trying, and kept throughly occupied in the meantime.

Now while I am more than willing to admit that "the good old days" were rarely as rosy as I often remember them, it really does seem like many of these games have been lost on my kids' generation. And that just seems sad. When the words "hoppy taw" draw blank stares, something has gone wrong in the world.

So imagine my joy this year at finding that a few of these games are making a schoolground comeback. Four square is the new It at our kids' school, and I couldn't be more thrilled. At present four of the kids attend a K-12 charter school, which means my eighth grader is frequently in a serious four square match with a couple of high school kids and a sixth grader (or some other crazy age mix). Or the fourth grader is taking down a high school senior. I mean really, how cool is that?

This afternoon the nine year old came in looking to recruit a few players. She had scratched a four square court in the parking lot with a rock.

After some coaxing, she got a big enough group. Now we certainly have our share of disagreements and arguments and straight-up brawls around here, but once in a while this sibling thing is downright cool. And siblings playing Old School? Be still my heart.

Time to start looking for some hoppy taws and a bag of chalk.

What are some Old School games you would like to see come back?


  1. Tetherball. I was always terrible at it, and yet I still have fond memories.

  2. ah tetherball. we even had one in the backyard. beautiful.

  3. Hi there! I am loving your blog, but I must admit I am drawing a blank stare at "hoppy taw." What is this? Growing up, the outside things I loved to do at home were jump roping, hula hooping, and rollerskating in the driveway. In the backyard, we would climb trees and my friends and I would take turns making obstacle courses and time each other. Favorite group games were Red Rover, Crack the Whip, British Bulldog, and a game with my cousins called Bombardment.

  4. hoppy taws are the little rubber hockey puck-type things to toss for hopscotch. they stopped better than rocks, but I'm sure were not universal.

    but what a great list of games. we played relay races with the kids last night and had a ball. we're going to have to add a few of these and go out again as soon as it's warm . . .