Thursday, June 2, 2011

Public Summer Service Announcement

Beep…beep…beep…Attention children: We interrupt this summer break to bring you an important message from the out-of-doors. Please close your laptop, turn off the television, relax your texting thumbs, unwind your fingers from their clutches of the video controller, and listen carefully.

The driveway awaits.

It wasn’t long ago that your parents spent their entire summers outside, from the time they rolled out of bed and did their chores until the streetlights came on and the voice of their parents yelled their names through the streets. Chances are your parents did not have the electronic luxuries that you have today, and playing outside was the best way to stay out of their mother’s way so that she wouldn’t wring their necks for pestering her and constantly making a mess. So out the door they went.

And when it came to playing outside, there were very limited and, dare I say, archaic toys. We had no Ripstix, we had really funny looking scooters. There was no fancy colored sidewalk chalk. Our jump ropes were made of, get this, rope. Either that or these little plastic tubes that would squeeze your skin no matter how hard you tried to avoid it. Our shovels and pails were made of metal, our swingsets puny and rusty. Everywhere you looked was today’s version of a health hazard. We had bats and balls, of course, but not nearly the selection of today. Frisbees came in one style and our bikes all had banana seats until that glorious day we graduated to the infamous ten-speed. The chains of the bikes always came off and pinched our greasy hands when we put them back on. The only way to get the grease off was to borrow somebody’s dad’s Lava Soap and scrub it off in the garden hose, which was convenient because after all that work, we were all probably thirsty.

And here’s the crazy thing: We. Had. Fun.

We had fun despite the lack of handheld electronics, cell phones, digital cable, virtual worlds, and a garage full of the latest and greatest bike/toy/ball/etc.

We created our own virtual worlds built out of sticks and cardboard boxes, and if you wanted to talk to someone you did this really wacky thing. You rang their doorbell.

When it came to games, we played things like tag which required us to exert ourselves and run rampant through the yard. We also chanted jump rope rhymes (including some that wouldn’t be so appropriate today) and drew elaborate hopscotch courses on our driveways with rocks instead of chalk.

And that brings us to the take-home lesson of this public service announcement. Hopscotch. Most of you reading this have seen a hopscotch course but have only hopped through it without ever knowing how to play the actual game.

The first thing you need to do is draw a hopscotch course. You all know what one looks like. Use chalk, use a rock, it doesn’t matter. Just don’t paint up your parent’s driveway. You’ll also need a rock or some sort of marker. (Note: Your little sister does not make a good marker.)

For your turn, you must throw the marker into the #1 square, landing completely inside it. If it does, great. You now start hopping on each square except the one with the stone. When you get to the top of the course, turn around and hop back, again avoiding the square with the stone but picking it up before returning to the start line.

If you don’t toss well into #1, your turn is over.

This repeats with each number of the hopscotch course, and the winner is the person who has completed all of the courses wins. If you step on any lines or lose your balance, your turn is over.

Also, if you step on a crack, you will break your mother’s back.

This message has been brought to you by the sunshine, fresh air, and mosquito bites. We now return you to your regularly scheduled summer.

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