Today’s kids spend more time out of school than they do in school, particularly here in California. The local school boards chalk it up to budgetary constraints. The result of this casual attitude toward education is a future populace that can’t read and a whole lot of sealed juvenile records. Not all kids are bad; in fact, a lot kids these days are downright homebodies. These kids spend at least six to eight hours each day parked in front of the TV with their Xbox 360, Nintendo DS or Wii. If the kid isn’t parked in front of the TV, chances are that he or she is watching free Internet porn or having webcam sex with the sleazy kid next door. These kids are fat, lazy and sans imagination. But at least they’re safe, right? I mean, it’s not like parents don’t mean well. Potential arrest records aside, I think that kids should be outside enjoying the sunshine, just like we did when we were kids.
You remember back in the day when it was in any way nice outside your parents would say, “Why don’t you go outside and find something to do?” They didn’t tell us to do anything in particular or give suggestions; they just wanted us to go find something to do. I still have fond memories of my mother kicking back with a tall, cool double vodka on the rocks and looking at us kids lovingly while saying, “For Chrissake, just go outside and find something to do. Something somewhere else than beside your mother, goddammit.” Ahhh, memories. Those were the good old days, and I’m inviting you to take a trip with me down this beautiful, nostalgic memory lane. Back to the bad old days, when of course, children were much, much safer.
Clacker, Klackers, Kabangers, Kerbangers
No matter how you said or spelled it, those things sure were fun, weren’t they? Just look at these things:
It’s two heavy weights attached by strings to a handle. You bang them back and forth against each other. What harm is there in that? What could possibly go wrong? Well, when you look at this frightening thing:
You suddenly realize that these things are used as weapons in other countries. I’m not joking about this. South American tribes used these things to hunt giant sloths, and emus and shit. We just thought they were toys. Oh, we also thought they were really good at raising a welt the size of softball.
Poking With Sticks
Poking things with a stick is a game that goes back from before the dawn of time. Hell, chimpanzees poke things with sticks just to see if they’re edible. I remember spending hours poking things with sticks including beehives, road kill, crayfish, and of course, other kids. This game is probably the origin of that whole “You’re going to lose an eye” thing.
You don’t need a big imagination to poke things with sticks, just something interesting to poke. I’m not sure that today’s kids would actually know how to play this game, after all, a stick is remarkably free of buttons and sound effects. A really bright kid might feel encouraged to add his own sound effects, but it’s not really a requirement.
Horse Chestnut Tag
Horse chestnuts are not edible. They are not attractive to look at. They appear to serve no purpose in this world except to cause injury to innocent woodland creatures and passersby. The horse chestnut is a small spiked ball of pain about the size of a golf ball.
Yeah, that’s not something you want to get hit with. We used to play all kinds of fun games with the chestnuts. There was the fun one where you just collected as many as you could and threw them at the neighbor kids. Then there was tag, only to make the other person “it” you basically hit them in the head with a chestnut. There was only a minor amount of bleeding, I swear.
You don’t see many tether balls around these days. Tether ball, for the unfamiliar, is basically a soccer ball on a rope tied to the top of a pole. This is the only apparent use most Americans have for a soccer ball. Anyway, the goal of this game is to hit the other player in the head with the ball. You hit the ball with your hands, carefully winding the rope around the pole and make repeated attempts to hit the other kid with the ball.
Scoring for the game is simple: it’s 10 points for hitting the other kid in the head, you get an extra 5 points for a direct face shot, 2 points for making the other kid whine and cry about how red his hand is and how bad it stings, 2 points if you hit the other kid in the ass and 1 point if the ball touches the pole while you are serving. I have no idea how to tell if you’re serving. Just go for the face shot, that’s the one that wins the game.
Supposedly you’re going to eat a pound of dirt before you die. My parents always felt that was good to get a head start in your childhood. Mom always told us that eating dirt helped build your immunity (as opposed to all those vaccines, which apparently are only good for preventing polio). Today’s kids are at a double disadvantage: not only do their parents not let them outside to eat dirt; they buy into discredited research that blames autism on vaccines used to prevent disease. On a side note: if a dozen kids out of a few million develop autism after receiving a vaccine, statistically it’s a coincidence. If 600 kids die each year due to preventable illness and hundreds more are quarantined at the expense of their parents’ incomes and their own education, that’s a fucking crime. Think about it. The direct result of lack of vaccines and no dirt consumption has resulted in a weakened and obese population.
The whole dirt thing was quite the catch-22 in my house. On the one hand, we were encouraged to go outside and “build our immune systems.” On the other hand, whenever we came back inside, my mother would scream, “Get the hell out of my kitchen, and don’t even think about sitting on the couch. You’re going to get the whole damn place dirty after being outside all day. I better not catch you on that bed either. I paid $2.00 at the yard sale for that quilt.” Ahhhh, memories. It’s a wonder I ever left home.
This has to be the all-time favorite toy of kids everywhere. I can’t think of a more disturbingly lethal device ever placed in the hands of children. Go ahead, complain about air rifles all you want, but I bet more kids lost an eye to these lovely things than all the BB guns in North America.
This is exactly what it looks like. It’s a 4 inch spike attached to fletching that can be thrown with both hands. Theoretically you’re supposed to try to get it into the circle on the grass. Ha ha. How many of you actually aimed at the circle? Be honest. We were all hoping that somebody besides us would get hurt. I knew kids that would throw them at trees, their siblings, neighborhood kids, their uncle while he was passed out in the lawn chair, their kid sister’s horsie inner tube and God only knows what else. It wasn’t a full game of lawn darts until blood was on the ground and you broke at least two objects completely unrelated to the game. Good times.
So many parents worry that their kids will develop violent tendencies when playing Halo, Tekken 3 or Call of Duty. They seem to forget that back in their day the blood was a little more, uhhh, runny. The special effects were so realistic, they actually included isolated incidents of arterial spray. But that’s no reason to shelter the kids. These are the memories that will last a life time.