Wednesday, April 25, 2012

the ebb and flow of memory

Poetic title today, isn't it?  And apt, too.  Yesterday I got an email updating me on Mr. G's tournament team practice schedule and I noted that he did NOT have practice for Tuesday, though I'd written on the calendar that he did.  Yippee!  We'd gone 4-4 ballplayers/coaches Monday night, so the prospect of a totally free evening without any practice/game/karate/church (excepting Mr. D coaching out of town) sounded delightful.  Team Testosterone arrived from school with light homework burdens and after they finished that, their chores and supper, we headed outside for the perfect trifecta of evening fun:  catch, around-the-world, kickball.
 I gained the lead in around-the-world, but then Mr. T and Mr. G were being mean to Mr. B so we quit playing without any declared winner.  The boys are finally old enough and skilled enough that we can all play catch, and we did for nearly an hour.  I threw pop-ups and rolled grounders.  I threw long and short tosses.  I missed more catches than they did, which was fine.   Mr. B and I went up against Mr. T and Mr. G in a game of driveway kickball where we racked up plenty of points but didn't keep score.  We raced and ran (with Jax getting in the way every time I was up to kick the ball), our sneakers brushing over dandelions in the grass.  We cheered and laughed and relished the balmy breeze on our arms and faces. I was truly wiped by the time we returned inside.  What a glorious evening!
In the hour remaining before bedtime we read and watched a bit of Frozen Planet.  The boys asked me what sports I played when I was their age and I explained that when I was a kid, we didn't really do sports like kids do now.  No one played soccer, for example, and all the other park & rec teams and tournament teams really weren't the norm back in my day.  "When I was a kid, we just played.  I took swim lessons and rode my bike a lot.  In middle school and high school I played a little basketball.  I took dance lessons and piano.  That was about it.  We mostly just hung out and played in our spare time."
"That sucks," they told me.  "Did you get a lot of homework?"
"Not like you do now," I told them.  
"Well, that would be cool," they opined.
"In the summer we'd play kick the can and stuff with all the neighbor kids.  We were never bored, but grown-ups didn't organize our fun like they do for you now."
Hm, they thought, "that might actually be okay."
This whole conversation got me to thinking about other stuff from my childhood.  Like the green Toughskin jeans I loved to wear, how toilet paper used to come in pastel colors to coordinate with bathroom decor and how my favorite smell was Tinkerbell perfume.  Remember Tinkerbell perfume?  It was the most delicate scent...
It's weird what you remember from your childhood.
And it's weird what you forget. 
This morning I opened my email to find one from Mr. G's league team coach--regarding last night's practice.  Oh crap, I thought it was a tournament team practice that had been cancelled...never even thought about it being his league team practice...
I feel bad that we missed his practice, but I'm glad we did because last night was perfect.


  1. I grew up in many different places. About 10 years ago, my sister and I revisited the town where I lived from age 2 to 10. I remember it having almost no cars in the streets (when my dad bought his first new car, the whole street came out to admire it), and plenty of space. When I returned the streets felt narrow and cramped. Of course, I was a lot bigger and older, and everyone now owns at least one car. The kids that live there now cannot play outside anymore.

    And that is why I am so happy to raise my daughter in rural Wisconsin. To have perfect evenings like you did yesterday.

  2. "unsupervied play"...ahh yes...*heh* I love how you explained that one. We girls in the neighborhood practiced our gymnastics: back walkovers, roundoffs and handsprings, back handsprings, and a couple girls did aerials! Beginners could even participate with backbends...and self-recovery from a backbend! We spotted eachother when somebody wanted to work on learning a new trick...

    The other different thing - because this was the late 70's, early 80's - was the places and distances we could go, unaccompanied by cellphones or pagers yet, we rode our bikes all over, and spent hours places where our parents just figured we said we young as 10,11, 12... And y'know...for the most part, we good kids.

    For instance, I remember what a big deal it was getting to take the train into Chicago, from my outlying suburb, at the age of 14...this would have been with 1 friend, no city contact destination, and no cell phone, obviously. Anything could have happened, but we were fine.

  3. I do remember tinkerbell perfume. We spent our days riding bikes a lot. We rode them everywhere. And $1 movie theatre was a big hangout too. I also remember Mary Kay strawberry lip gloss.

  4. We also had lots of unstructured play. We were forced to take piano lessons (only lasted a year for me, I'm not musical) and we resented that intrusion into our made-up games. We roamed far and wide in safe residential neighborhoods.

    Emma has specified that she will not participate in any after-school, structured, activities. She'll do things on Saturdays, and in the summer. But after school she needs her head space. I can't blame her --Rob and I do too!

  5. Your evening sounds perfect! I love it.

    I remember the little Lip Smackers lip glosses that came in a tin with a sliding lid.

    And all I remember playing was riding bikes. We had a far wider radius allowed us than my kids do now. We went on some great adventures, miles form home. I and I lived in (a residential part of) a pretty dark big city!

  6. Sometimes it's a blessing when things get mixed up. My childhood was similar to yours. At my small Catholic school if you wanted to play basketball,you were on the team. Cheerleader? Just sign up.

    I don't remember Tinkerbell perfume only because I was fixated on Love's Baby Soft.

  7. Oh Tinkerbell!

    I'm grateful we live in a neighborhood where my girl can head out the door looking for her pals and find herself something to do all day, old school free range style. It's pretty great. I purposely refuse to let her go out for 'challenge' level soccer because it's a few extra practices a week and frankly, I just can't do it.

    Your night sounded great.

  8. What a fun evening.

    By contrast, we usually read after dinner.

  9. That Tinkerbell reminds me of Strawberry Shortcake. . .

  10. I think "those of us" from a certain era/age, remember all that freedom, because we had it, and not what our kids have now. We had the ability to roam all over, unsupervised, because there were not any distractions. Nothing to tether us to handheld anything. No technological whizbang machines. We had to make our stuff up, and we were let out of the cage, to do that. Our kids, will never be able to do that, or have done that (mine are 19 & 22) because of what grabbed their attention first--the gameboys, the nintendos, then the computers, the cell phones and on and on. If we could have chosen between techno living, and freedom, what do you think the parents of a certain age (growing up in the 60's, 70's, and early 80's) would have picked? (again, anon, because my senior moments of password forgetfulness coincide with post menopause brain)

  11. I missed the soccer craze by a few years. I remember being about twelve and being taken to my younger cousin's soccer game and thinking, "God, what a waste of a Saturday morning." Both my sons dabbled in soccer but I hated the practices and games so much it was a relief when they didn't want to continue.

    We all had "lessons" in the seventies. I had gymnastics lessons and ballet lessons and piano lessons, but I don't think there were any organized sports for girls back then, and for boys there was just Little League. Actually, my grammar school had boys and girls basketball teams, but Catholic schools are traditionally basketball powerhouses.

    I remember toughskins jeans! Remember bonne belle lip smackers? Remember Captain & Tennille? My cousins and I would make up dance routines to "Love will keep us together."

  12. The spring/summer long toss nights after dinner outside were perfection.

  13. So glad you had a perfect night! I think it's kind of sad that kids don't get to play spotaneously the way we did when we were growing up. My neighborhood friends and I ran wild, playing tag, running around the woods or riding bikes. My mom had a cow bell she'd ring when it was dinner time. There's something so cool about that kind of freedom.

  14. I LOVE nights like those. That is what we do most weekends. Go outside and play catch, tag, frisbee, etc. But to be able to do that on a weekday is pretty awesome. :)
    I was a part of organized sports as a kid but it wasn't taken as seriously as it is today. It seems a little manic today. I am trying so hard to find a balance between letting my kids join stuff they are interested in and not over scheduling them. A carefree childhood is what I really want for them. Like the "old days". ;)


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