As a native-born Texan, my Daddy was geographically and culturally predisposed to be a storyteller.
Since everything is supposed to be bigger and better in Texas, it was sometimes hard to separate the fact from the fiction in his tales. Like the beginning of this short story about a popular game of the time he played with his brothers, sisters, and friends.
Here are the facts. My Dad was a child of The Great Depression. The economic times were made even harder by the fact that he was one of 17 children. Only 11 who survived past age 5. Kick the Can was a game that most youngsters then played.
Now here’s how my Dad used those facts to start one of his tales. He would say, “When I was a boy, we all played kick the can, and we were so poor we couldn’t even afford the can.”
Now, I’m sure my Dad was exaggerating, but Kick the Can is a great fun game from the past. You can introduce it to your grandchildren and their friends, if you know how to play the game.
Obviously, as time goes on and outdoor, unstructured play continues to dwindle. Games like Kick the Can become less familiar to youngsters. As play scholar Rodney Carlisle notes “At one point in time, teenagers played Kick the Can with younger children, and the game and its variations were passed on from child to child”.
Playing games like Kick the Can is a great way of connecting children with their past. It allows them to discover the freedom of outdoor games and offers a way to build a closer relationship with their grandparents.
What outdoor game was your favorite as a youngster? Why did you like it so much? If you were to teach it to your grandchildren today, what could they also learn about you and past times?