It is said we are the sum of our experiences. Our minds have the ability to take seemingly trivial activities and transform them into skills we use our whole lives through.
When I was a little girl growing up in the ‘60s, I never dreamed that the games and toys I played with would become a vital part of my everyday adult life. I’m not twirling my Hula Hoop anymore or watching my Slinky walk down the stairs, but the carefree pastimes of my past have taught me some valuable life skills.
Thanks to the game Twister, I can bend down to pick up a dirty sock from the living room floor with my right hand, clunk my left elbow on the coffee table and still manage to avoid stepping on the Lego my granddaughter left there. All without tipping over.
Remember those little plastic squares with the numbers 1-9 printed on moveable tiles? They were all mixed up and you had to shift them around until they were in order. Well, if you come to my house, you will see that I’ve incorporated the skill of “shifting” into a useful art.
I don’t have to remove a single thing on any shelf of my refrigerator to find what I need. I just push the milk over and back one space, pull the mustard down and over three spaces, and pull the Country Crock up and over two spaces. Voila! There’s the cheese.
“Simon Says” isn’t played much now. When I was a kid, I played it with my brothers. Their favorite commands for Simon to say to me was ‘go away’, ‘hold your breath forever’, etc. I never dreamed how important this game would become when I grew up.
“No more holes in your ears,” Mom says.
“Why not? I have plenty of earrings,” young daughter replies.
“Because I say so!!” answers Simon/Mother with a glint of pride in her eye.
I have harnessed the power of “Mother Says”, and it all started with “Simon Says…thumbs UP!!”
Operation came out in 1964. This game challenged us to use tweezers to remove various items from a red-nosed patient. If you fumbled, his nose lit up with a painfully loud buzzing sound.
As a mom and grandma, I’ve removed a variety of objects from sniffling, red-nosed children with my trusty tweezers. I guess Operation wasn’t my best game; I still hear a tortured moan when I come toward my splintered patients.
My favorite game of all back then was Clue. I loved discovering who did what to whom and with what. That curious nature has turned me into “The Investigator of All Family Mysteries”.
Who put the bread in the fridge, and why? Why is there never any toilet paper on the holder? OK. I’m checking shoes to see who stepped in the cat poop and walked through the house.
Jacks taught me how to swipe my hand along the floorboard of the car and pick up loose change/errant Kleenexes/ketchup packets while still keeping my eyes safely on the road. Jump rope has saved my life more than once when Christmas extension cords stretched across the room in holly-jolly jumbles.
And thanks to my work with Silly Putty I can turn a lump of ordinary ground beef into a mean-looking meatloaf.
All these skills were perfected through years of seemingly mindless play. Who knew I’d need to use hide and seek on an almost daily basis to find my keys? Or that “Red Light, Green Light” would teach me that it’s okay to go on “Yellow…as long as I don’t get caught?
I’m glad I grew up in the ‘60s. We knew how to play, and those games made us awesome, adaptive adults.