When I was about eight years old, I had a red rubber ball. It was summer, we had a big driveway and miles of sidewalk surrounding us, and, for some reason, that summer I was all about that ball. (That and the Gilligin-style hat I incessently wore, but that's another story.)
Anyway, I was all about that ball. And all about bouncing it. Nonstop. Everywhere I went, except in the house, which my mother summarily forbade. But, I remember the addictiveness of the act of bouncing that red ball. There was something about the slight give of the hard rubber, the way it fit in my hand, the satisfying sound of its thud on the concrete, and the accomplishment of catching it hundreds of times in a row.... It just filled some gap in my soul, I guess. Or more likely, it was just something to do with my hands during an awkward season of my adolescence.
But the memory of that red rubber ball is a happy moment in my childhood.
Red Rubber Ball - The Cyrkle
There are a lot of silly little things that go into making memories of a happy childhood. We never went on a fancy vacation in our lives, our parents didn't go in for the latest gadgets or buy us expensive toys, but I remember my childhood through a happy, bazooka-bubble-gum-pink haze. Time passed slowly because we bounced and slinkied and silly-puttied through the years.
Do you remember growing up and going through game fads? We still did in the '70s and early '80s, anyway. There was the yoyo phase, which came on the tails of the Smothers Brothers show. Anybody remember that?
Then there was a marbles phase, and a jumping rope phase (American and Chinese), and throughout grade school, we obsessed at one time or another over jacks, cats cradle, magnifying glasses, and Madlibs. All our recesses and free time were taken up by one or another of these playground passtimes. Becoming proficient was a right of passage.
But, I can't help but wonder, and tell me honestly, do I sound like a hopeless old-timer waxing nostalgic here?Do kids in general still enjoy these things? My children have, but I worry that it's because they're homeschoolers with a nostalgic mother who encourages it. It would be a sad thing if computers, i-pods, cell phones and wiis took the place of hopscotch, marbles, checkers, and jumprope. I hate to think of a world where a nine-year-old knows how to download a computer game but doesn't know what a cat-eye is, or where little girls text one another, but don't know how to skip in time to the "Cinderella dressed in yella" rhyme.
It's not just a few scattered families that keep these things alive, is it? Will the old playground games fade from the earth, like man's knowledge of the stars and the seasons? Will there be a day when these simple, untechnological pleasures are footnotes on Wikipedia? Tell me we aren't going there.