The other day one of my Facebook friends reposted a status: “We had social networking when I was a kid, too. It was called ‘Outside.’” Apparently, I wasn’t the only kid who got kicked outside by her mother.
It would start with me switching the channel when Captain Kangaroo was over. I wanted to watch The Shari Lewis Show because I’d heard other kids talking about it. But my mother would hear the ending credits and poke her head around the corner from the kitchen. “Time to go outside.”
“I don’t wanna. I’m watching TV.” Shari sang while her faithful sidekick Lambchop was introduced.
My mother walked into the room and turned the dial on the TV. “Out,” she said.
“Can I just go in my room and make paper dolls? I won’t make a mess.”
“Absolutely not. Outside.” My mother guided me to the door with her hand pushing my bottom.
Michigan weather ran the gamut from sunny to stormy–veering more toward the stormy side–but unless an actual tornado warning had been issued, I had to spend my Saturdays outside our house. Daddy usually drove his garbage truck on Saturdays, so I would have enjoyed playing in the house, without worrying about his quicksilver temper igniting. My mother didn’t see it that way.
Almost every house on Trimble Street had one or more kids in it, so very often I’d find a friend not far from my front yard. We’d play sandbox trucks or army generals. We’d hammer caps on the driveway. On our bikes we flew all the way down busy Gull Road or, when those weren’t operational, we walked a mile to the cemetery to lie on graves. When the sidewalks were snow-covered or patched with rough ice, we trudged in our rubber galoshes, the sides unbuttoned and flapping against our calves as we chatted and munched candy we’d stored like acorns in our snowsuit pockets.
I used to tell my mother that she made me go outside more than the other kids. My proof was that I didn’t know all the TV programs they did. I’ve caught up with the shows over the years and they are still the same today that they were then. Playing, though, has changed, and that I can’t make up. I guess I ought to thank my mother for kicking me outside.
Did you play outside when you were a kid? Do you think you would be playing outside much if you were growing up today?