The summer before kindergarten, my family moved from Carmel to Lebanon. The latter was the town of my parents' birth. I remember this move clearly. I went from having my own room to sharing with my little sister. I was none too pleased about this. To compensate, I was able to choose the color of the room - a lovely shade of lavender. I chose this because I was also under the impression that I would be getting my choice of new carpet as well. The rich, deep purple shag that captured my five year old heart would have complemented the lavender in perfect fashion. That purple shag never appeared due to my mother's superior taste.
The house belonged to my grandfather and had also been my father's childhood home. The small, white house sat on a corner lot next to a local grocer. While the tiny house was nothing special in my five year old eyes, the yard was incredible. The lot had a concrete pad with a basketball goal. A sandbox. Cherry trees. A picnic table. And endless rich, green grass on which I would stain the knees of every pair of pants I owned. Although I could have cared less about the basketball goal, the concrete pad was perfect for Nascar-style big wheel races with the aforementioned sister. My Strawberry Shortcake Big Wheel was nothing short of spectacular and clearly superior. As were my skills. I digress.
That summer, as I eagerly anticipated the beginning of "real" school, I was introduced to the woman who would be my summer and after-school babysitter for the next four years. As it happened, she was also my father's babysitter decades earlier. That's how it worked in our small town. She was located a mere three houses down from my own. My sister and I joined a half-dozen other children around our age each day during the work week. Most of the time was spent in the back yard, entertaining ourselves with a variety of games, our imaginations filling in the gaps when we became bored with the standard rules.
We had several games in the regular rotation. My favorite was Statue Tag. A form of Freeze Tag, this version allowed for continuous play while adding an element of difficulty. When the person who was "it" tagged one of the other players, the player became a statue rather than just being frozen. The statue player could then be reanimated if an unfrozen player was able to identify the statue without being tagged by the "it" player. Repeats were not allowed in a given game and it was frowned upon if one was not consistently creative with their choice of statue.
The babysitter's yard, not nearly as large as my own, also required us kiddos to get creative with other basic games. For example, a game of kickball or wiffle ball required the kicker/batter to perform tasks before running to first base. Things like running around the plate three times before taking off for first base gave the other team a fighting chance to actually tag the player out. We liked to amp up the competitive nature of our backyard activities.
Thirty years later, I find myself revisiting these beautiful summer days spent running around the babysitter's backyard with the regular crew. I spent the afternoon with my mother and sisters. We were joined by my nephew who, although not quite of school age, was very insistent that we enjoy the beautiful day outside and in fully active mode. I was also reminded that I am not as agile as I was during those summers as I attempted to demonstrate the principles of the aforementioned games of my childhood.
Spending the afternoon playing these games with the next generation in our family resulted in smiles and laughter that fed my soul. The building blocks of the past were the perfect foundation for new memories I will carry with me on our future adventure. My nephew may never play in that yard that felt my footsteps as it had my father's, but the imaginative games that grew on that soil will continue to sprout as the days grow longer in summers to come. I'll make sure of it.
Because today was just pretty darn awesome.
Proper spinning technique...