Tag Archives: Childhood

At Play: NaPoWriMo 2018, Day 16

“Ring Around the Rosie” for my sister’s birthday & a backyard production of “Cowboys.”

At Play

“Annie I Over,” ” New Orleans.”
In shorts or dresses or cutoff jeans,
we ran and threw and played and shouted.
our pent-up energy thus outed.
“Send ‘Em,” “Ditch ‘Em,”  “Cops and Robbers.”
“Poor Pussy” turned us into sobbers.
Do you remember these childhood games?
All vastly varied, with different names?

Before TV or internet,
games were as good as one could get
for transport from reality.
Back when we were cellphone-free,
“Drop the Handkerchief” we knew well
along with “Farmer in the Dell.”
“London Bridge” went falling down
each birthday party in our town.

All the long-lit summer nights
“Cowboys and Indians” staged their fights.
“Cops and Robbers” led to searches
of school ditches and behind churches.
The whole town our playing ground,
each chid lost, each child found
in hours long games of “Hide-and-Seek.”
Count to one hundred.  Do not peek!

In childhood games of girls and boys,
imaginations were our toys.
Does such magic now reside
in minds of children safe inside
their cushioned worlds of rumpus rooms,
sealed safe within their  houses’ wombs?
For dangers real now lurk in places
that formerly hid playmates’ faces.

Safety dictates different measures
for insuring childhood pleasures.
But oh, I remember so well
joyful flight and heartful swell
of friends pursuing through the dark
back then when life was such a lark.
Now children seek  play differently
on cellphone screens and Smart TV,

scarce imagining a world
with internet not yet unfurled.
Our world had not yet been corrupted
with connections interrupted
with wireless servers on the blink,
for we needed no further link
than friends pounding upon our door
to come outside and play some more!

 

daily life color161 (1)Stylish cowboys Karen Bossart and sister Patti.

 

This is a rerun of a piece from two years ago.http://www.napowrimo.net/day-sixteen-5/

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24 thoughts on “At Play”

    1. lifelessonsPost author
      Me too. Why don’t adults ever play these games? I guess in Britain they used to…The one where one person would hide and when they were found, the person who found them would crowd in with them. More and more as the bame progressed until everyone was in one confined space with just one person left looking for them.

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      1. Karen Bossarts Rusthoven
        Oh, Judy! This was wonderful! Those were the days. What ever happened to childhood?
        Thanks for the memories! I’ll see you in September. Love you! Karen

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    1. lifelessonsPost author
      Did you play all of those? I’ve never met anyone else who played New Orleans. My sister and I were tryng to remember what happened after the “it” person droped the button into your hand. Wikipedia just says that everyone tries to guess who has it and the one who does then gets to be “it.” That doesnt sound very exciting, though. I thought there was some chasing involved, but perhaps I’m confusing it with “Drop the Handkerchief.” Charmingly naive names for these games, as were the rules. But what fun they were. In the winter, Fox fox Goose.

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  1. Venkatacharya
    Those were all wonderful days. I used to play many games that you mentioned above at my childhood during those years of 1950s and 60s. We miss all this happiness now.

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      1. lifelessonsPost author
        Thanks, Mary. My poetry group doesn’t quite know what to make of my humorous rhymed stuff. They don’t want me to put any of it in our new anthology, which they say is intended for more “serious” poetry…But the rhymed humor cheers me up, too, when it decides to appear, so I keep welcoming it with open arms. I will describe Poor Pussy, Poor Pussy in a post.

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    1. lifelessonsPost author
      Thanks to sister Betty, at least for the first seven years of my life.Then I took over the role of family photographer, or Patti did when the photos were of me. I now take more photos in a week than we did in ten years back when it was a bit more work and a lot more money to get a photo.

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      1. lifelessonsPost author
        Is the story about the women in your family the 1500 word story you were talking about? I enjoyed it. Didn’t seem rambling. I’d enjoy knowing who the people were in the photos, though.

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  2. Mary Francis McNinch
    I longed for the simpler world, before Internet and real danger lurked. Tonight I cried. Cyberspace became a stranger, now I feel like a two faced jerk. Truly Judy.. I love the way you tell it like it is or was.

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The prompt: write a poem that prominently features the idea of play. It could be a poem about a sport or game, a poem about people who play (or are playing a game), or even a poem in the form of the rules for a sport or game that you’ve just made up 

Almost Holy

My sister Patti and I, all dressed up for church and told to smile, no doubt! Photo by sister Betty 

 

Almost Holy

I always wanted a set of those panties that had a day of the week embroidered on each one, but I grew up in an era when kids didn’t ask for things.  I know my mom would have bought them for me if she’d known, or my grandma would have ceased her endless activity of sewing sequins on felt butterflies or crocheting the edges of pillow shams long enough to embroider the days of the week onto the baggy white nylon panties jumbled into my underwear drawer. I never asked, though.  Never told.

So it was that on Sunday I’d arise and put on the same old underpants, cotton dress with ruffle, white socks, patent leather shoes. I’d take a little purse no bigger than the makeup case in the suitcase-sized purse I now carry. Into it I’d drop a quarter my dad had given me for the collection, a hanky and the lemon drop my mother always put inside just in case of a cough. I never coughed, but always ate the lemon drop, sucking on it during Sunday School and sometimes asking for another from the larger supply in her purse during church.

Why my mom never sang in the choir I don’t know.  She had a fine true voice.  Both of my older sisters did and so did I, once I was in high school.  I remember when I was little watching the choir in their fine robes that looked like they were graduating every Sunday.  They sat facing us, in three rows to the preacher’s left, as though checking up on us to make sure we didn’t misbehave or yawn or chew gum.  In addition to lemon drops, my mother always carried Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum in her purse.  Sometimes the gum was a bit red  from the rouge she always had on her fingertips on days she applied makeup. It seemed to me like the rouge flavored the gum a bit.  It tasted of clove and flowers.

“Just hold it in your mouth,” my mother instructed, my sister and me; and if we chewed, she would take it away from us. “Just chew it enough to make it soft and then hold it in your mouth.”  This was an almost impossible challenge for a child and actually even for a teenager.  By then, we’d learned to crack the gum and to blow bubbles even when it wasn’t bubble gum.  That fine pop and final sigh of air as the bubble broke–so satisfying. The threat and memory of everything we could be doing with that gum resided in each small wad of it held in our cheeks as we sat lined up like finely dressed chipmunks listening to the minister drone on.

Hymns were like the commercial breaks on television–a chance to move around a bit and look at something other than the preacher–to ponder the curious lyrics such as, “Lettuce gather at the river,” “Bringing in the sheets” and “Let me to his bosom fly.”  (Just what was a bosom fly and what had lettuce and collecting sheets from the clothesline to do with religion? Once again, we didn’t ask.)

Then we’d sit down again for the Apostle’s Creed or a prayer or benediction or the interminable expanse of the sermon–half an hour with no break.  I’d listen to the drone of the flies buzzing in circles at the window, or the sound of cars passing in the summer, when the front and back doors were left open to encourage  breeze where no breeze existed.

Now and then a curious dog would wander in and be ushered out by the man who stood at the door to hand out church programs.  Everyone would hear the scramble of dog toenails on the wooden aisle and turn to watch and laugh.  Even the minister would laugh and say say something like, “All of God’s creatures seek to commune with him upon occasion.”  Then everyone would laugh softly again before he turned his attention back to telling us what was wrong with us and how to remedy it.

That afternoon, Lynnie Brost and I were going to play dress up and have a tea party under the cherry trees and bury a treasure there.  We’d already assembled it: my mom’s old ruby necklace, a handful of her mom’s red plastic cancer badges shaped like little swords with a pin at the back to put on your collar to show you’d given to the campaign,  my crushed penny from the train track, her miniature woven basket from South America that her missionary sister had brought her, a tattered love comic purloined from her older sister. (We’d “read” it first–which at our age meant looking at the pictures.)

I fell asleep thinking of what else we could add to our cache, to be dug up again in ten years or for as long later as we could stand to put off exhuming it. I leaned against my mother as I slept, and if she noticed, she did nothing to awaken me.  She shook me a bit, gently, as the congregation stood after the sermon, singing “Onward Christian Soldiers” as the minister marched down the aisle, smiling and greeting parishioners and the choir followed him, as though they were being let out early for good behavior.  At the door, we greeted the preacher again, standing in line to shake hands and be blessed, then ticked off his mental list of who had been among the faithful on this fine summer day when they could have been out mowing the grass or rolling in the piles of grass emptied from the clipping bag.

Then we drove the block home, for no one ever walked in a small town.  Well done rump roast for dinner, as we called the noon meal. Mashed potatoes, brown gravy, canned string beans, a salad with homemade Russian dressing and ice cream or jelly roll for dessert.  All afternoon to play. Another small town South Dakota Sunday of an endless progression strung out from birth to age eighteen, when I departed for college and the rest of my Agnostic life.

 

This is an essay from almost 5 years ago. Hopefully, you’ve either not been reading my blog for that long or you’ve forgotten it and it will read like new, as it did for me. I missed the boat when it came to religion, but it wasn’t for lack of experience. The prompt today is almost.

Temporary Rivers

Patty in mud 001-001

This is my sister Patti, college age, walking barefoot out to her last big adventure in the ditches of Murdo, South Dakota after a July rain. Not quite the gusher depicted in my childhood vignette below, but nonetheless, Patti’s final puddle adventure. She had taken my visiting niece out. The next day the neighborhood kids rang our doorbell and asked my mom if Patti could come back outside to play again! Ha.

Temporary Rivers

When the rains came in hot summer, wheat farmers cursed their harvest luck, for grain soaked by rain just days before cutting was not a good thing; but we children, freed from the worry of our own maintenance (not to mention taxes, next year’s seed fees and the long caravans of combines already making their slow crawl from Kansas in our direction) ran into the streets to glory in it.

We were children of the dry prairie who swam in rivers once or twice a year at church picnics or school picnics and otherwise would swing in playground swings, wedging our heels in the dry dust to push us higher. Snow was the form of precipitation we were most accustomed to––waddling as we tried to negotiate the Fox and Geese track we had shuffled into the snow bundled into two pairs of socks and rubber boots snapped tighter at the top around our thick padded snowsuits, our identities almost obscured under hoods and scarves tied bandit-like over our lower faces.

But in hot July, we streamed unfettered out into the rain. Bare-footed, bare-legged, we raised naked arms up to greet rivers pouring down like a waterfall from the sky. Rain soaked into the gravel of the small prairie town streets, down to the rich black gumbo that filtered out to be washed down the gutters and through the culverts under roads, rushing with such force that it rose back into the air in a liquid rainbow with pressure enough to wash the black from beneath our toes.

We lay under this rainbow as it arced over us, stood at its end like pots of gold ourselves, made more valuable by this precipitation that precipitated in us schemes of trumpet vine boats with soda straw and leaf sails, races and boat near-fatalities as they wedged in too-low culvert underpasses. Boats “disappeared” for minutes finally gushed out sideways on the other side of the road to rejoin the race down to its finale at that point beyond which we could not follow: Highway 16––that major two-lane route east to west and the southernmost boundary of our free-roaming playground of the entire town.

Forbidden to venture onto this one danger in our otherwise carefree lives, we imagined our boats plummeting out on the other side, arcing high in the plume of water as it dropped to the lower field below the highway. It must have been a graveyard of vine pod boats, stripped of sails or lying sideways, pinned by them, imaginary sailors crawling out of them and ascending from the barrow pits along the road to venture back to us through the dangers of the wheels of trucks and cars. Hiding out in mid-track and on the yellow lines, running with great bursts of speed before the next car came, our imaginary heroes made their ways back to our minds where tomorrow they would play cowboys or supermen or bandits or thieves.

But we were also our own heroes. Thick black South Dakota gumbo squished between our toes as we waded down ditches in water that flowed mid-calf. Kicking and wiggling, splashing, we craved more immersion in this all-too-rare miracle of summer rain. We sat down, working our way down ditch rivers on our bottoms, our progress unimpeded by rocks. We lived on the stoneless western side of the Missouri River, sixty miles away. The glacier somehow having been contained to the eastern side of the river, the western side of the state was relatively free of stones–which made for excellent farm land, easy on the plow.

Gravel, however, was a dear commodity. Fortunes had been made when veins of it were found–a crop more valuable than wheat or corn or oats or alfalfa. The college educations of my sisters and me we were probably paid for by the discovery of a vast supply of it on my father’s land and the fact that its discovery coincided with the decision to build first Highway 16 and then Interstate 90. Trucks of that gravel were hauled to build first the old road and then the new Interstate that, built further south of town, would remove some of the dangers of Highway 16, which would be transformed into just a local road–the only paved one in town except for the much older former highway that had cut through the town three blocks to the north.

So it was that future generations of children, perhaps, could follow their dreams to their end. Find their shattered boats. Carry their shipwrecked heroes back home with them. Which perhaps led to less hardy heroes with fewer tests or children who divided themselves from rain, sitting on couches watching television as the rain merely rivered their windows and puddled under the cracks of front doors, trying to get to them and failing.

But in those years before television and interstates and all the things that would have kept us from rain and adventures fueled only by our our imaginations, oh, the richness of gumbo between our toes and the fast rushing wet adventure of rain!

 

This is a rewrite of a story from three years ago. The prompt today was ascend.

back when we were baby birds

back when we were baby birds

feeding each other
cold spaghetti worms
in grass clipping nests
empty summer stretched in front of us

stale plastic wading pools
pressing yellow circles
into grass
that smelled like wet bandaids

during a game of hide-and-seek
dust bunnies behind the chest
full of old prom dresses
in the upstairs hall

mouse droppings
in the basement
pits from sour cherries
scattered on the back steps

scraps of soggy paper
dried into small sculptures
under the weeping willow tree
revealing part of each original message

mommy is . . .
. . . ate my cookie
I hope Sharon . . .
my doll doesn’t . . . your doll . . .

summer just an empty cup
we filled each day
with the long summer rains
of daydreams.

 

The prompt today way fragrance. Since I have to leave soon for the first day of Campamento Estrella, here’s a poem I wrote so long ago that I’d totally forgotten it. I’ll post photos of camp later today.

Every Child’s a Child of All

Every Child’s a Child of All

Though some of them are ill-begotten,
our childhoods cannot be forgotten.
Filled with love or merely fuss,
still, they are what started us.
Those in their good fortune who
got to the front of childhood’s queue
happy and content and loving
without undue stress or shoving
need to thank each lucky star
that they’ve turned into who they are.

For there are children born in stress––
to poverty or loneliness.
They live next door  in every land,
unguided by parental hand.
Born carelessly into this world,
inside of each, a self lies curled
needing  care to help it grow
from shadows into sunlight’s glow.
These children belong to us all
so if you hear them, heed their call.

There are so many different ways
to parent them–with smiles or praise.
Share what gifts you have to share.
Each child is valuable and rare,
although, it’s true, they may not know it,
help them find a way to show it.
Teach them, praise them, love them, show
each child you meet the way to go.
For, in places tame or wild,
It takes a village to raise a child.

Send a Kid To Camp

Music               Art               Dance              Mask-making               Storytelling

 

This year Campamento Estrella will again be held on July 25-30 for 30 children (age 9-12) from San Juan Cosala, the village where I live. (For those of you unversed in Spanish, “Campamento Estrella” means “Camp Star,” for it is our belief that every child is a star.) The photos shown above are from last year’s camp, which was a smash hit. This year we will be stessing kind treatment of animals, town history, serving the pueblo and personal hygiene and ethics.  These themes will be dealt with through the activities listed above as well as  interaction with town elders and young adults from the pueblo who can serve as excellent role models to the children.

We are currently seeking donations to cover the cost of art supplies, food, equipment rental, camp T-shirts and the salaries of the young Mexican camp counselors. We greatly appreciate donations in any amount.

Donations may  be made via Paypal to jeredepaul@yahoo.com 

If you live in the Ajijic area, donations may be made at Diane Pearl’s, Viva Mexico Restaurant in San Juan Cosala or by contacting Judy Dykstra-Brown at jubob2@hotmail.com (387 761-0281), Audrey Zikmund at az62343@gmail.com (766 106-0821) or Jere Fyvolent at jeredepaul@yahoo.com. (387-761- 0813.)

The camp will culminate with a dance performance by camp participants as well as performances by the San Juan Children’s Orchestra and Chorus and the Ajijic Ukulele group at 3-5 p.m. on Saturday, July 30 at Viva Mexico. Please call 387 761-1058 for table reservations if you wish to attend that performance. They will be serving from their regular menu. Admission to the show is free, but any donations to help fund next year’s camp will be gratefully accepted. Next year we hope to include a second week of camp in El Chante. Why not set up a camp of your own.  There are children waiting to become stars everywhere on earth!!!

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/childhood/

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Companionable.” Head to one of your favorite blogs. Write a companion piece to their penultimate post.

daily life color093 (1)

As I lie

Once, in that long dream of childhood, I
assumed that I would be a child forever,
slipping between the lives of adults, somewhat

off. The wrong hairdo, clothes
in my closet hanging in
that off-kilter way

like teeth missing in a child’s mouth, others grown half-way
in to not quite meet their lower neighbor.
It was a mystery

where I’d fit in adult life––
The job I’d do,
the children I’d tell what to do;

and I never quite found the answer, although
my teeth grew in, to meet
each other in the middle.

Blooming, after their
crimson exit––
two by two, they nourished a life,

burying childhood
like
a lie.

I chose S. Thomas Summers’ poem, “As a Child” as a springboard for my poem. Rather than use his poem as a theme, instead I used the first word of each of his lines as the first word in each of my lines. Go here to read his excellent poem: https://inkhammer.wordpress.com/2015/11/01/once-i/

Second Chance

I wish that I’d been wilder and freer in my day.
Had imaginative friends to join me in my play.
I wanted to stage circuses and playact vivid scenes,
but schemes like this were always far beyond my means.
There wasn’t enough zaniness in anyone I knew
to dream my dreams or want to do what I yearned to do.

We’d play school or hospital or house when we were smaller,
but this imagination palled as we grew taller.
I wish there had been classes in writing and in art
to allow  that side of me to flourish from the start.
Instead, I had to search for whatever it might be,
never finding anyone who seemed at all like me.

What was it I was lacking? Where was the rest of me?
I didn’t have a clue about what I was meant to be.
Half of my life I think that I was trying to fit in
to places and activities where I’d never win–
achieving just enough to make my life appear successful,
yet still I felt unsatisfied–unfulfilled and stressful.

Since I was nobody’s mom, nobody’s loving wife,
at thirty-one I ran away to find another life.
I quit my job and sold my house and caught a westbound train.
Perhaps I’d find in water what was lacking on the plain.
So I went to California and took a writing class.
Then another and another, until it came to pass

that I finally found the playmates lost to me in youth.
They were irreverent, creative, clever and uncouth.
Here, at last, I finally felt like I had found it all.
Words were the playthings that we tossed among us like a ball.
My own life now surrounded me–securely, like a bowl.
Here I felt a part of things–a section of the whole.

Later, I discovered I was an artist, too,
All my life, I hadn’t known.  Hadn’t had a clue.
It took someone just guessing and pushing me that way.
Then I had two mediums for saying what I say.
Art filled out the rest of me ’til I was full at last.
It took almost forty years to find how I was cast.

And then all of those playmates lost to me as a child
began to pull me out with them–out into the wild
to paint myself and write myself anew each dawning day–
discovering those hiding parts in what I sculpt and say.
Every day, like hide-and-seek, I find another part–
all those portions of me I’ve been seeking from the start.

I know that second childhood is a derisive term,
but I have found in fact it is the apple, not the worm.
It is the food I feed upon, the fruit I’ve always sought.
It is simply what I am instead of what I’m not.
It’s filled with messy, juicy things like paint and flux and glue.
Explosive things like nouns and all those verbs like “am” and “do.”

What I missed in childhood, I found when I was thirty,
and it was simply glorious: naughty, messy, dirty.
I rolled around in words and paint with others of my ilk–
these artful things more nourishing than bread or mother’s milk.
At forty, fifty, sixty, I’ve become what I can be–
found what I lacked in childhood: friends that are like me!

The Prompt: is there anything you wish had been different about your childhood? https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/childhood-revisited-2/

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