This post is dedicated to my Dad who reads them all and asked for a “short one” since he has a busy week at work. This one’s for you, Dad!
Monday. The start of the work week and also the school week for the youth of America. If you asked me in grade school what my favorite subject was, I probably would have said English. Because I’m a rule follower and you asked about a subject. But if you asked me what part of my school day I loved the most, that would be recess. Naturally.
I went to a super-small Christian grade school called Heritage Christian School. I still remember the wavy metal walls, playing volleyball in the gym, warming up spaghetti-o’s in the library (that’s where the microwave was!), and chewing those pink tablets that the teachers gave us to show us where we weren’t brushing our teeth well enough. There were no computers at this time in my childhood and certainly no state-of-the-art playgrounds ergonomically designed with children in mind (I do, however, remember a pencil sharpener fastened to the wall. We had to stand in line to use it). I remember having a playground with a swing set, a tether ball, monkey bars, and maybe a slide. There might have been more, but all I remember was the “field” surrounding the playground area. Why is that, you ask? Well, it’s because almost every recess I would lead several of my fellow grade school students to try to make a fire with nothing but our wits and the land to aid us.
I honestly have no idea what compelled me to make this game up. I’m not even sure that I really thought of it as a game, because I was pretty serious about it. Day after day, I (and the others in my party) would try to find flat-ish small red rocks. We’d pinch a few grass stalks from the ground and put them in a little pile on the ground. Sometimes, we’d find a few sticks to add to the “kindling” and that would really bring a lot to our motivation. And then we’d rub the rocks together in the hopes of creating a spark that would cause the fire.
All. Recess. Long.
When we finally went back inside to our classroom, our hands smelled of friction. I’m sorry to say that I never did get a fire going, despite my fervent efforts, but it has to say something about my tenacity that I didn’t stop for at least a year. Maybe longer. I’d like to tell you why, but I wasn’t really self-aware back then so I didn’t analyze my behavior. Ironically, I am not an outdoors woman in any way. You would think with such an early–albeit failed–start that I would have developed a passion to live off the land. I think my outdoors-loving spirit was crushed in those formative years and now it’s too late.
Tetherball, on the other hand, was a much bigger success story. I’ll take you on any day…no soda pops allowed.