“Fudge. Fudge. Call the judge. Momma’s got a newborn baby . . .” Our lilting little girl voices sang in unison as pudgy pink arms, one on each end of the rope, made wide circles—up, over, slap the ground—up, over, slap the ground. The plaid pleats of a maroon and grey skirt brushed the knees of one who was “in” while the starched white Peter Pan collar swatted her chin each time the soles of her saddle shoes pounded the pavement.
Jumping rope demanded rhythm. It took practiced skill to know when to enter, when to flex the knees, when to spring up, when to exit. Then there was the tricky part of being able to do all of that in tandem with a classmate while passing a stick, a pretend key, to her as she would take over your spot after you skipped out on cue. “House for rent, inquire within. When I move out, let Debbie come in . . .”
That was not the only lunchtime game that required agility. Corpus Christi girls, forced to be outside on Searing Avenue in Mineola for recess even during Long Island winter afternoons when the condensation of our breath made us feel like mature smokers, also tossed stones onto chalked hopscotch boards. Aiming for a particular box required concentration. Balancing on one foot was essential. So, too, securing that pleated skirt with one hand while bending at the waist to reach with the other and retrieve your pitched potsy, lest your flowered panties be in full view of onlookers.
I have a long list of lessons I learned on the playground while enjoying two of my favorite activities. They have served me just as well as those I learned seated behind a desk in the classroom. Even as an adult, a daily dose of fresh air and fun is imperative. It keeps me from taking life, and me, too seriously. Sharing activities with friends while laughing and singing elevate my mood. Keeping a steady rhythm through life is necessary; if my pace gets too quick, I will trip over life’s ropes. I must know when to leave a situation, when to gracefully make my exit. Sometimes, I must step aside and allow another to take my place. It’s important for me to surrender the key that I had used to lock others out; I need to hand it over and allow them in. I try always to have a goal in sight and aim for it. Balance between work and play prevents me from falling over. And I don’t have to show everyone everything I’ve got. Oftentimes, it is best to retain an air of mystery.
Did your childhood play offer you lessons you abide by today? If so, how about posting them here? Be kind enough to share them with us in the Comments section below.
Be enlightened! ~ M