RDP Saturday – PLAY
Old English pleg(i)an ‘to exercise,’ plega ‘brisk movement,’ related to Middle Dutch pleien ‘leap for joy, dance.’
I’m always surprised and delighted to see kids outdoors, just running and playing and having a good time. We don’t have many young kids in our neighborhood, but every now and then I hear a skateboard, or the thump of a basketball. It makes me want to go out and play with them, but they’d be terrified I’d hurt myself 🙂
I think it would be a great gift idea for Christmas to take your kids outdoors and teach them to play Red Rover, or Mother May I, or hide-and-seek, or tetherball, work-up, jump rope, hula hoop, roller skating—well, you get the idea. Maybe you’d need to enlist the help of a grandparent who remembers those games.
Saturdays were chore days. Mom worked full time, so on Saturdays my sister and I did the housecleaning while she did laundry. We had a carpet sweeper, dust mop, rags, dusting spray, gritty cleanser for the tub and sinks, a brush and cleaning solution for the toilet. We stripped beds, remade them with fresh sheets; we took rugs outside and shook them; emptied trash, cleaned mirrors. We were about 8 and 10 at that point, and we didn’t feel put-upon. The goal was to get it done so we could spend the rest of the day outside.
I can’t say I enjoyed housecleaning. Boring then, boring now. But it sure felt good when everything was clean and fresh. It never crossed our minds to whine or complain about having to do the work. That wouldn’t have ended well. Besides, both Mom and Dad worked hard all week, and after all, we lived there too. Some of the dust and mess was ours. We never thought it was “unfair” to be expected to pitch in. That, by the way, is what helps build the much vaunted self-esteem in a child–to be a working, helping part of the family. Anyway, nobody was worried about our self-esteem back in the 1950’s. We worked, and then we played. And by the way, there were no organized sports. We made our own rules, and usually followed them.
We lived in a great neighborhood. Lots of kids around our age, so getting up some kind of game was easy. We could go down to the school playground and play baseball, basketball, or, if it was set up, tetherball. We roller skated on those old-fashioned skates that clamped onto your shoes, using a skate key we kept on a string around our necks.
As evening approached, it was time for hide-and-seek. Base was usually a tree, and the goal was to run to base without getting tagged by whoever was “It.” Great fun, great exercise. There weren’t many overweight kids back then, because we didn’t sit in front of screens all day, nor did we snack on chips and soda pop–those things were for special events, not every-day living.
Does it seem like I’m painting a rosy-colored kind of memory? Well, it was wonderful, and it was real, and it was how we lived. We were poor, although I don’t remember knowing that. It didn’t matter. We had a wonderful time growing up, and I’ll always treasure the memories.