Sunday, September 04, 2005

The Ropes

Every Sunday afternoon, I pick up my mother, to take her to lunch. Each week, then, I return to the home I grew up in, the house my parents bought in 1964. It is a small home, in what would now be considered by some a lower-class neighborhood. That is...not an entirely...wealthy neighborhood, if you measure wealth by the cash value of your home.

The neighborhood is approximately 4 square blocks, and I recently shocked my son when I informed him that I'd stepped foot in almost every house within those 4 blocks. It amazes me to consider, and is nearly incomprehensible to him.

Late 1960s; the women's movement had not quite taken off, and I grew up surrounded by stay-at-home Mom's. After the Dads drove off to work, it was not an uncommon sight to see women in houserobes and rollers, crossing the street with their coffee cups, to share a quick cup o joe before starting their days cooking and cleaning and keeping their kids in chasing them out of the house with instructions to get some fresh air.

So, though supervised by all the parents in the neighborhood, we ran the streets. We organized baseball games, jumped rope, played house, and even popped tar bubbles in the street for entertainment. We laughed and cried and fought and hit. Our allies and our enemies changed on a daily basis.

Where are the kids in our neighborhoods? Can they find 12 for a baseball game, or are there too many sitting mesmerized in front of MTV, PS2, DVD...or their blogs? (I write this from an outdoor cafe). Are we too afraid to let them out, unchaperoned and unattended? Do we fear too much, their falling off their bikes and scraping their knees?

There are kids, still, in my mother's neighborhood. Scads of them, you are forced to bring your car to a halt, while they break up kickball games, and move their jumpropes to let you pass. Mothers still sit on porches, or squawk from inside screened doors.

I joined them today, with my camera, to watch a game of double-dutch. There were approximately 10, boys and girls, waiting patiently, 4 attempts each before their turn was up. There seems to be extensive jumprope terminology; oh, why didn't I take notes? They jump 2 ropes these days (what strong bladders they must have!). The turners, whose job seemed to be just as important as the jumpers, used a clothesline folded in half. One girl held on to the ends of the rope, the other created handles from the loop ends.

The footwork was amazing, some of the girls jumping 2 ropes on only one foot, and making 180-degree turns to face the other direction on the other foot. A few times the turners joined in, turning ropes, and jumping at the same time.

They were socializing, communicating, organizing, and exercising, to name just a few. Some laughing, some bickering, but rules were rules, get back to the end of the line!

Perhaps the household that cannot afford the PS2 is the wealthier, I say.


  1. Anonymous9:50 PM

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  2. What a nice blog.

    I only hope that someday I can teach my kids to "play" instead of veg out in front of the tv, computer, etc.
    (Like I'm prone to doing.)

  3. Right on - to all of it! I didn't grow up in such an idyllic neighborhood (as yours sounds to me) but I know for sure that all the gadgets money can buy does not make a happy childhood.

  4. Boy that picture brings back memories. Life was good running up and down the block. Riding our bicycles and skateboards. Jumping double-dutch and playing handball. Sadly those were the best days of my life.

    Adulthood has brought nothing but anxieties and fear.

    I wish more children discover the joy of one another's company and not learn their lessons about life from the tv.


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