Monthly Archives: August 2013

What Happened to Children’s Games?

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It was the 1970s the last time I heard children playing a real children’s game. Red Rover, as it happened. I last heard children skipping rope to rhymes in the 1980s.

Is this just something in Honolulu, or has the children’s game vanished? I hate to think of a world where all entertainment has to come from adults, in organized sports, computer games, things on a screen, even board games. About the closest thing left is riding skateboards. I don’t even see hopscotch diagrams at the elementary school.

No one buys them jump ropes. I haven’t heard a ball being bounced in decades, that didn’t involve dribbling and shooting a basketball. Yoyos, paddleball, jacks — all gone, it seems.

Of course, in today’s cities a game of Hide and Seek seems very unsafe. Too many children go missing as it is. Too many have been raised lacking what we used to call common sense and would go hide someplace they would get stuck or injured. That’s a game for a large landscape.

Children’s games didn’t involve adults, simply. Young children learned them from slightly older ones, watching or being taught. Some, like London Bridge or Ring Around the Rosey, were early and quickly outgrown. Others, like Simon Says or Mother, May I?, could be played by a fairly wide age range. The equipment was simple or non-existent. Parents knew them, but they didn’t participate.

Was this too much independence for the last generation or so of controlling “helicopter” parents? You don’t schedule a game like this, and you pick one or adapt one for the number of kids loose on the block. They were simple-minded, often silly, and just great for a young mind. There was no way to become a champion at most of them, and that wasn’t the point. Fun and a kind of co-operation were the goals. They learned to form their own groups, set their own parameters, and enforce them, all without adult interference. They socialized us in ways that are kind of obviously missing from many young adults I meet.

Please tell me this is a local problem, and these survive mainland.

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August, Fly She Must

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Hurricane preparedness. Anything preparedness, all year long, from brush fires to tsunami, depending on where you live. Here, hurricanes, dock strikes, and tsunami, as well as the periodic black-outs from HECO ineptitude or sabotage (Army runs tall equipment into wires; someone in Waipahu throws a chain across the lines).

•    Emergency light sources in every room, because there’s nothing like being stuck on the toilet in your pajamas when the neighborhood goes dark. Mini LED flashlights are good, tucked in drawers or hung on little plastic hooks. After that you break out the wind-up-to-charge lantern, the candles, the oil lamps, whatever else you plan ahead on. Learn how to make “water candles,” jars of water with cooking oil floated on top and a wick. These are one of the safest forms of flame lighting because if they spill the water usually douses the flame. The others require people be careful around them.
•    Food that will store without refrigeration. MREs only keep about a year, so plan on restocking when you can use the old ones, either when camping, or hiking, or you don’t want to heat up the kitchen with cooking. They’re a different form of brown-bagging. Freeze-dried foods can be great (I’ll eat some brands as treats), but pricey. Canned and bottled foods are the default. Because its shelf life is limited, usually 12-16 months, get things you will use up in ordinary cooking, or give the old stock to the local food drive (they won’t have it but a couple of weeks, and the recipient needs it right then). This includes pet food. Make sure a decent proportion are things you can eat without heating them. The local canned survival kit is vegetables, Spam, corned beef, sardines, pork and beans, chili (w/wo meat).
•    A manual rotary can opener to open canned food. It’s terrifying/hilarious how many people forget this, and only have an electric can opener when there’s no power. You may be the hero of the neighborhood if they can bring their cans to you. Let no one borrow it. It’s too likely you won’t see it again.
•    Metal pans, dishes, and utensils. Ceramics break. Plastics can’t take heat. Eating equipment may have to double as cooking equipment if you have to evacuate. Buy some 4/$1 stainless steel flatware to keep with the other emergency gear rather than taking and losing the good stuff.

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