Tag, Toss, & Run
Juvenile non fiction
When I was a child my peers and I spent many blissful hours
playing games handed down in an oral tradition, usually by the bigger
kids. We captured flags, dodged balls, jumped rope, threw frisbees,
and followed the leader--all without certified coaches laying down the
rules and arbitrating disputes. I have very fond memories of softball
games where sticks replaced bats and borrowed or discarded sofa
cushions marked bases. But my favorite game was a walking one. At
every intersection we flipped a coin to see which direction to take.
If we passed a corner store (they were ubiquitous then) we had to go
in and buy penny candy. Our most memorable excursions involved rides
home in police cruisers. It's amazing how far from home kids can get.
These days too many children get less time outside than
prisoners in correctional institutions. Sad but true. The more well
off tend to be shuttled from supervised activity to supervised
activity. I've seen second graders with schedules that would exhaust
grad students. Of course there are also too many kids spending all
unscheduled time indoors in virtual worlds. We are now realizing
unintended consequences: everything from obesity and type two
diabestes in the young to kids lacking negotiation skills by having
all disputes adult settled.
It's time to change things so kids can play outside. Tag, Toss,
& Run can be a wonderful asset. In very readable prose with ample
illustrations it introduces readers to forty games passed down through
generations. These are activities that require no adult supervision,
no special fields, and very little in the way of equipment. Among the
ones described are:
*ghost in the graveyard--a nighttime version of hide and seek with the
eeriness of flashlight illumination;
*kickball--a base/softball version that requires only a softball and
agreed upon base markers;
*scavenger hunt--a hunt for a list of objects that can be collected or
photographed (maybe at night using flashlights);
*capture the flag, double Dutch jumprope, and so many more.
When I was a child we would get so caught up in our games it
would startle us when parents started calling us in for baths and
bed. We'd look up to see sunset fading into dusk. Those unstructured
evenings feature prominently in my generations favorite memories.
Don't today's kids deserve the magic and enchantment of just being kids?
On a personal note, the Wednesday before Easter we had a delicious
dinner and fascinating program. We learned to dye eggs a very special
way. It involves layers of wax and multiple dye dips to create
multicolored works of art. I messed up trying to copy a geometric
pattern. Not surprisingly. Then I realized what I was doing looked
like amoebas under a microscope. That's what I went with. When we
were almost done a friend's egg broke. I gave him mine to finish and
take home. His smile was much more precious than the egg.
A great big shout out to all my Wilson Center friends. We are family.
Sent from my iPod