Awww, that kid’s stuff…

Last night I got to thinking about how different each generation’s childhood was.  I was watching commercials that showed educational toys for toddlers.  There were some for video games.  There were some for swimming pools.  Kids these days have so many purchasable options that we adults can get for them.  What did we have when we were kids?  What did my parents have when they were kids?  What types of games were played?

My parents remember how hard they had to work around the farm and the household because there were so many kids (9 and 8 kids per family respectively).  They had to bring water from the well (no plumbing).  As they got older, they would take items to the market (eggs, butter, cheese) to sell so that they could buy other items like thread and yarn or salt and other seasonings.  This was because the parents and grandparents would either be watching the newest babies or were working in the garden.  At that time (about 50 years ago) the older kids were also the ones that took care of the sheep and the goats or cows.  They would take them out to a lovely pasture to graze.  School…well, you didn’t stay in school long…maybe grade 3 or up to grade 5  because there was much work to do at home.  Didn’t sound like much of a childhood to me, but my mother swears there were good times too.

I recall my mother laughing and telling me about the games they played.  There was no tv to watch.  They would read books.  They would play jacks.  They would sing songs and dance.  They played tag.  Then there was the typical tree climbing and rock climbing adventures (you just had to watch for snakes).  There was juggling (rocks…and hope it didn’t land on your head).  Oh, they learned how to whistle grass.  Now some of those I do recall doing in my childhood as well, but my generation, well we had different games.  (Mostly because we didn’t live in a village and had no livestock.)

Now, this is oftentimes the best way to find out how old someone is.  Here is a list of games that we used to play as kids (my age and those 10 years older) played:

Now, if you can recall any of these games (feel free to follow the link to see what kind of fun I’m talking about) then you are about my age or maybe 5 years younger.  If not, then you are of a much younger generation where video games were starting to become more popular.  Good ol’ Atari and Intellivision.  Barbie was getting super hip and getting a lot more cars and campers and airplanes.  Boy’s toys were getting more cool too.  The absolutely amazing Big Wheel.  How about Stretch Armstrong?

Anyway, I digress.  I love going down memory lane.  The older I get the happier my childhood memories are.  You really only remember the good ol’ days.  I’m sure the games that I used to love to play shall be making a comeback.  Why?  Because it’s not “old stuff”, it’s called “retro” and retro is always cool. 

So, when Little Kennie gets a little order, I will show her what a cool and hip grandma I am because I am “old” enough to know all these cool “retro” games that no one else knows. 

Anyone up for a game of Red Rover.  Now that’s what I call kid’s stuff!

Family Innings

I am part of a large family.  My mother was one of 8 children and my father was one of 9 children.  On average, each child had 4 children.  That is a heckuva lot of cousins.  You do the math (I am not a math whiz so really, you do the math). 

Wiseguy comes from a large extended family.  Many aunts, uncles, cousins.  Meeting all his relatives for the first time was a bit awkward as it was a funeral.  The only easy part, which was quite intriguing, was that every aunt’s name was Mary and every uncle’s name was Joe.  Honest.  I can’t make this stuff up. 

As a child, I never realized how fascinating it was being part of a large family.  Every Sunday after lunch we would venture to an aunt or uncle’s house or their families would come over to our house.  There was always giggling and laughter. We kids played in the basement.  The adults hid out upstairs.  We made up very creative games as we did not have a lot of toys.  We played school and took turns being the teacher.  We played desert island where we would lay cushions on the floor and jump from one to the other because if you touched the floor then the crocodiles would get you.  We played hide and seek and tag and red light green light.  We played restaurant.  We put on shows for each other.  We played soccer and badminton.  Sometimes the day would end with someone being really mad at someone else and “un-cousin-ing” them, but by the following weekend it was GAME ON! 

As we got older, we somehow grew apart.  Everyone got busier with school and part time jobs (and dating).  Years passed and then we would see each other at weddings or funerals and we would promise to visit or write.  Even with facebook and e-mails and texting and so many other types of media available, there just doesn’t seem to be time.  How did that happen?  How did our parents always find time? 

My first thought was distance.  Even with my siblings, the closest is 20 minutes away and the furthest is an hour and a half drive.  Ok, but even factoring in the drive time, it seems that everyone has so many extracurricular activities, either that they do or that they drive their kids to.  I don’t recall having so many after school activites as kids nowadays do.  Work schedules are different now as well.  Retail stores are now open later and Sundays too.  I remember when stores were closed on Sundays.  Restaurants and other food places are now open all the time.  Statutory holiday or not, they remain open.  Even trying to create family outings, prices have gone so high that it’s hard to arrange for a good day or night out.  Even going to the movies you need about 30.00 per person if you would like a popcorn and drink with the show.

So, is that really the reason why there are fewer family visits?

It wasn’t until The Wiz and The Debater both said to me, “I love it when it’s just us.”  Hmm.  Just us. Just us would be myself, Wiseguy, The Wiz and his fiancee The Baker, The Debater and his wife The Artist, The Princess, and little Kennie.  Just us.  Why is that better?  Huge family functions are so much fun!  So many stories to tell and funny past history tales.  Yes, as we get older we just remember the fond times.  What about the family feuds and battles?  Even planning weddings has become more difficult because you need to know who is not talking to whom and who can’t get along.  Coming from a large family, we dealt with all situations and many times we did wish that we weren’t part of  large family because we would have so much more time for ourselves and our immediate family.

I have stopped trying to plan a huge family get together with the extended family.  I am looking at how wonderful my life is and what wonderful kids we have and how blessed and happy I am that no matter how busy everyone is, we all take the time to figure out how we can all get together for a  wonderful sit down meal and playing games afterwards.  It’s nice to know that they do still WANT to come over.  So many parents end up not seeing their kids for months or even years at time.  We have the honour and pleasure of having their company a minimum of once a month but sometimes even twice a month.  SCORE!  How lucky are we?

So, family outings can be fun.  It’s true.  However, I’ll take my family innings any day of the year.  Love you guys!