Edith here, on a month of five Wednesdays in May. Who played “Mother May I?” with neighborhood kids out on the front (or back) lawn? I did, for one. Remember? The “mother” faced the group and gave commands: Take two giant steps forward, or tiptoe five tiny steps, or any other kind of forward movement. The child or group of children have to do that, but first they have to ask “Mother May I?” If they don’t, they have to go back to the start. The goal is to reach Mother first and become the new one.
So let’s talk about other outdoor childhood games we played! Favorites? Not so favorites? In groups vs. individually?
Jessie: I loved Two Square. I had a knack for putting a spin on the ball and sending it out of the opposite square in such a way that it was really tough to reach it. I spent many happy recess hours playing it.
Barb: I saw my cousin last fall and she reminded me of the hours, and hours, and hours
we spent playing jacks on our grandparents front porch in Sea Girt, New Jersey. I had forgotten all about it, but the minute she said it, I remembered the summer we all played jacks. My manual dexterity is horrendous, as my typing proves, so it was probably good exercise for me, but why was I attracted to it in the first place?
Liz: I loved hopscotch! I remember drawing the squares in everyone’s driveway – mine, my grandparents, friends’ houses. It was probably the only thing I played where I didn’t hurt myself. I also liked playing volleyball in my backyard – my father put up a net and left it there most of the summer so we could play whenever we wanted. I had fun with it until one day I sort of forgot it was there, and I was running through the yard and literally ran into it. I had a giant cut right across my nose for weeks. I wasn’t so fond of volleyball after that, and my new favorite outdoor game became reading…
Sherry: Red light, Green light — Statues — jacks — so many fun games. But a favorite of mine was an after dark game called Jailbreak. One person was it and everyone went to hide. If you got caught you had to sit on a designated front porch. While the person who was it tried to round everyone else up someone would sneak back to release the prisoners yelling jailbreak and the whole thing would start all over again.
Edith: Sherry reminds me of those summer evenings playing outside after dinner with the neighborhood kids until we got called in, sweaty and tired, for a bath and bed. We also had a tether ball in the back yard, with the pole in cement. I could whack that thing for hours. Wind it all the way up one way, let it unroll on its own and whack it the other way. We also jump roped a lot with friends and sometimes used two ropes. Was that called Double Dutch? Oh, and roller skating in the patio and on the driveway, with the metal kind of skates that clipped onto your shoes and you tightened them with a hex key.
Julie: Sherry’s game sounds like it could be good fun at a mystery conference! I liked four square (must be like two square but with four people). I also enjoyed croquet. We made up our own rules, and had a course that wasn’t up to code, but it was always a ton of fun. But honestly, my favorite outdoor game was reading.
Readers: What were your favorite games to play outdoors? Have you taught them to the next generation, or the next?