One evening my son joined me in the kitchen while preparing supper, toys and all. As he played on the kitchen floor he sang a nursery rhyme all with incorrect wording, yet it was still very entertaining. I began to sing along, rectifying him but he didnâ€™t appreciate this much, telling me what do I know as Iâ€™m not a child. I could only but smile as I silently drifted away into my childhood memories.
A particularly good time of year for me was during the June holidays. This was when the ultimate tennis tournament took place on the grass courts of Wimbledon. Early morning Iâ€™d watch the featured match live from centre court; knowing that only the most important games were always played on it. Backing my favourite player Iâ€™d watch as every point was won, every umpire call debated, and every ball boy or ball girl moving swiftly past the nets. Whatever the result, the match would be replayed later in the streets, where lines were drawn and with the umpire comfortable on his chair stationed on the pavement. Our handmade wooden bats twisting in our hand as the â€śspectatorsâ€ť watch the ONLY green tennis ball closely. With every hit a loud scream would be heard emanating from â€śMonica Selesâ€ť or â€śMartina Navratilovaâ€ť. Iâ€™d argue with an unfair call, go the extra mile in my serve to produce an ace, and be very disappointed should I commit a foul. No matter the result, at the end of it all, we would shake hands like the true street tennis players we were.
Another favourite game was hopscotch, better known in the coloured community as hokkies. There were different ways of playing this depending on the amount of hokkies that were drawn. There was 9 hokkies, 10 hokkies and12 hokkies. A game of blocks drawn on the ground, either numbered or named. The purpose of 9 hokkies was to get through all 9 first, ultimately claiming one of the hokkies. To win 10 hokkies you had to be fast in saying names, surnames, fruits, vegetables, places etc. To be the ultimate winner in 12 hokkies you had to drop a piece of flat stone, called a â€śpurseâ€ť, in these hokkies without your â€śpurseâ€ť or foot landing on the drawn lines. This was deemed a girlâ€™s game only and no boys would be seen dead playing it- however there were times when some could not resist!
Then there was the skipping rope game, played by a minimum of three individuals. Two at either end of the rope making huge circular movements with their arms moving it either very fast or very slow. The third one would be in the centre jumping over it. Everyone would sing to the tune of made up lyrics knowing exactly when to jump in or out of the rotation. The real fancy players wouldnâ€™t jump the simple up and down step, but rather making all sorts of foot movements demanding the respect of the other participants.
One of the worse games was the knock-knock game, better known as tok tokkie. It was played late at night. We would knock or ring someoneâ€™s doorbell and run away, sometimes leaving a stink bomb at the door. The stink bomb is a plant that gives off an awful smell when stepped on. When the unsuspecting person opens the door, not only are they not greeted by anyone, they also have a horrible stench that enters their home.
There were so many games I played, too many to mention. Most important, these games kept us busy and it kept us kids. We didnâ€™t know about bond payments, fuel increases, politics or any other grown up stuff. The only thing we were focused on was being the best at a childhood game and being a child.
I look at my son and realize with sadness that he will never experience a true childhood. These daysâ€™ kids spend all their time online learning everything and anything way before the time. They donâ€™t know any other way of enjoyment as technology rules our every move. Some might argue that this is just the beginning of the new- age kid, I say Iâ€™d rather play barefoot in the street.