Lord, how can a person get lost in her hometown? Yet You helped me find and feast on lasagna with these friends with whom I once read Dick and Jane books. Played jacks and hopscotch at recess. Graduated from high school. OMG, what a fun evening You gave us — together again!
Though adorable, little people firmly believe the cosmos revolves around me. I’m first, while the rest of humankind stands in a Disney World line, applauding such wisdom.
As shoe sizes grow, though, so does the unwelcome conviction that other people matter.
My parents and teachers mercilessly preached that we should take turns. So, on the playground, we pondered how to settle who was “it” in tag and hide-and-go-seek. Who would go first during world championship four square and hopscotch tournaments? Who won the right to the highest monkey bars (and most likely trip to the ER)?
Teachers suddenly abdicated. “Work it out.”
Crying — which worked during early grades — now roused irritation. Scathing cries of “Baby!” ensured the weeper would never be allowed to lick someone’s red licorice whip.
So, we clobbered each other. Then discovered recesses in the principal’s office weren’t fun.
Eventually, junior diplomats introduced oral traditions whose influence has rivaled the Constitution’s. A future Secretary of State — or mother — gathered playground barbarians in a circle and chanted a rhyme. On the accent of every poetic foot, she pointed to each tennis-shoed foot:
Eeny, meeny, miney, moe,
Catch a tiger by the toe,
If he hollers, let him go,
Eeny, meeny, miney, moe.
Federalists advocated emphatic law enforcement. Those leaders bumped our fists:
One potato, two potato, three potato, four,
Five potato, six potato, seven potato, more.
Jeffersonians advocated individual input:
Bubblegum, bubblegum, in a dish,
How many pieces do you wish?
With each rhyme, the person matched with “moe,” “more,” or “wish” would be “out” or “it,” as determined beforehand.
Rock-Paper-Scissors prevailed in later years. Participants simultaneously shaped their hands into a rock (fist), which beat scissors (two spread fingers), which beat paper (a flat extension of the hand), with paper triumphing over rock.
This tool currently rules playground games and restaurant checks, even aiding our judicial system. According to a 2006 CNN report, a Florida federal judge ordered two lawyers to settle their ongoing dispute through Rock-Paper-Scissors on Tampa’s courthouse steps.
Purists argue that Rock-Paper-Scissors is not truly random. Tournament players study which gestures are favored by opponents. During competition, they may confuse rivals by shouting, “Rock!” while giving a “scissors” gesture.
Playground rhymes didn’t always prove just, either. Smart little number nerds like my husband, often leaders in “Eeny Meeny,” “One Potato” and “Bubblegum,” exerted definite influence on outcomes.
Life wasn’t and isn’t always fair. We still should promote the best justice possible, right?
Perhaps the President and Congress should follow the Florida judge’s example. “One Potato, Two Potato” or “Rock-Paper-Scissors” might help settle governmental stalemates.
A little playground justice might even solve the current toilet paper shortage.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What was your favorite playground-justice tool?
Do we really want a sunny, warm spring day?
Duh. Yes! I crave a sunny spring day more than a tax refund equal to the lottery. More than an overnight belly fat loss.
I do enjoy the changing seasons, including January and February — cozy months to enjoy a good book by the fire. Also, an excellent opportunity to thumb my nose at warm-weather friends who still must do yard work and jog.
Today, however, the sun peeks through my unwashed windows with na-na-na-boo-boo mischief.
Come outside. It lights up the green, green exterior like a marquee. It’s spring!
Where’s your baseball, your bat? Dig out your old mitt, even if it smells more like feet than hands. When Dad comes home from work, maybe he’ll play flies and grounders with us in the backyard.
It’s a perfect hopscotch day. Chuck that project. Ditch that deadline. You own a whole driveway of limestone, a treasure chest of perfect rocks that could draw a thousand hopscotch grids on playground blacktop only a block away.
The 1963 Taylorsville Elementary Hopscotch Champion in me trembles with anticipation. I might have to wear Spandex armor to keep my jiggly torso from smacking my knees with each hop, but must … play … hopscotch. …
However, the Responsible Adult in me proclaims, “You haven’t washed these windows since you moved in.”
True. Pristine sunbeams also touch our carpet and winter-dingy furniture as if they had cooties. Layers of dust comfortably camouflaged by dim winter days now scream for attention. They’re almost as needy as the lumpy, bumpy lawn outside, invaded by a crabgrass army. The sun leads me to our garden, covered with skeletons of brave, hopeless tomato vines.
This year, a friend offered me free horse manure if I want to shovel and haul it. Do I feel that ambitious for future vegetables?
Funny thing about sunlight — like its Creator, it gets nosy, peering into the grimy corners of my house, yard and life, seeing much more than I like. Instead of dissing me, though, the Sun Maker breathes a warm kiss of a breeze on my cheek and hands me the first flower of spring. So what, if it’s a dandelion?
He’s sent ragged robins, looking like refugees, to greet me, too. But they just can’t help singing.
Nor can I. Sure, our Maker will help me tackle the flaws in my home, yard and soul. But first, He, the sun, and I select the perfect rock from the driveway. We head for the playground and my first game of hopscotch in a long, long time.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite way to celebrate the first sunny, spring day?