Sunday, June 3, 2012
Kids Used to Play 'em, Parents Used to Step on 'em
Ricky told Kate that "those were kind of like Mommy's DSi." She asked him what he played with, and he told her he played with little green Army men and other toys. Doesn't matter whether it was girl stuff or boy stuff, our toys came without electronic chips or screens or flashing lights... and we were lucky to have them because our parents before us didn't have fancy things like jacks or plastic army men, ya know.
These days, more than ever, it would seem every new generation watches the world change more quickly and more intricately than the ones who came before them. It will probably always be the way of parents to tell stories about how we lived our childhood and proclaim our children "lucky because you have all this stuff we never had." It can't be helped, no matter how insistent you are that you will never do things the same way your parents did them. Eventually, and hopefully sooner rather than later, you realize your parents were doing their best to turn you into civilized human beings who could carry on the line of humanity and produce or help raise another generation.
So, please, don't ever stop telling your kids stories about the way you spent your childhood. Don't ever stop explaining how to play jacks or spread cards for solitaire or line up dominoes to make a chain reaction once you've tired of playing the actual game. Maybe you are younger than I am. Maybe your stories will include waiting to replace batteries in a handheld game like Simon. Maybe your stories will be about finding the wall charger so you can charge your DS before you play another game. Maybe your stories will be about waiting for the iPod to charge so you can text your friends while you're at home where the wi-fi is free. It doesn't matter so much about the details, for those have been changing with every generation since time began. What matters is keeping bits of history alive and real in the minds of future generations, teaching life skills, and creating strong family bonds...and all of than can easily sneak into a lesson about how to play jacks.
Speaking of learning how to play jacks, I did spend hours playing that game some summers. I can't remember if my sister played, but I think she did. I can't remember if both my cousins Doris and Rose played, either. I do remember the feel of my hand skimming the cool concrete floor of Granny's front porch on a hot summer day, trying to snag jacks before the ball bounced too many times. I tried to show Katie how to play again last night, and that's what started the whole conversation. What's funny is that a grown up can't help being a grown up, though, and as soon as she almost lost a jack skittering across the kitchen floor, well you can probably guess what happened. Yep. I uttered those words I'd heard myself at least once in childhood, "If you lose that and I find it by stepping on it, there's going to be trouble. No more jacks in the kitchen for now." Aw, c'mon, you didn't really think I had enough patience and wisdom to avoid uttering those words, did ya?