Having Fun

 George Bernard Shaw has been known to say, “Youth is wasted on the young.” He has a point of course; young people are too immature to realize just how much fun they’re having. Those of us firmly entrenched in mid-life however understand all too well how brief, how fleeting it can all feel. We know, or that is, most of us can mark a point in our lives when it stopped being fun and started feeling all at once burdensome, and heavy, maybe even sad. 

Okay, well not to be too morose, but I was feeling rather encumbered the other day when I came across a handful of little eight year old girls jumping rope. I was drawn to them. I haven’t seen that activity being played out in front of me in quite a long time, and I was struck with how happy they looked, how absorbed they were in their game. Two of them were turning the large rope while the other three or four waited in line for their turns. To be honest, they were not very good at it, the game was not going very smoothly. For one thing, one of the turners was rather small (much like myself at that age) and that size differential made the rope kind of lopsided, so whomever “came in” had to find just the right place in order to compensate for the “low” side. Get hit with the rope and you’re at the end of the line. That’s how it goes. This was not obvious to them so I watched a couple of tall girls get out even before they could get in. I found myself getting frustrated. 
I knew that I could not interfere, that my suggestions and my encouragement and even my years of experience with this particular activity would never be appreciated by any of them. But here’s what was going on in my head and it is worth noting if for no other reason than it made me confront my own mid life crisis head on in a way that I had not approached it before. 

I wanted to jump. 

I really wanted to jump. I didn’t just want to offer sage advice from the sidelines, like a coach or a mentor, I wanted a turn. I wanted to get at the end of the line, and then approach the rope and show them all how it is done. I am in pretty good shape so I even convinced myself that I could do it, get in and get out and take a bow. I’d never do anything fancy mind you, I am not a show off or anything, but perhaps if they could see my timing, my footwork…
Of course it is absurd. I’d trip and be on the ground—I had the wrong kind of shoes on. I’m not stupid. But if I took them off… 

The point is I wanted to have that kind of fun again. I wanted to jump rope with some of the girls. I wanted to experience that again—recess, the laughing, the clapping, the unbridled joy at listening for and hearing the rope swish across the ground, knowing that I would be under it in a flash, that they would sing while I jumped, encouraging me, but also maybe hoping that I would not finish the song because recess was almost over and they are next… 
I wanted to play. I guess I wanted to be a little girl again. I’m thinking I’ll be the one in the nursing home about whom all the aides whisper, “Don’t mind her, she drags that rope everywhere. She’s looking for a game.” 

It is hard to have that kind of simple fun when you’re older. Not only are you deemed eccentric or just plain nuts if you try, there is always the risk of actual injury, which if you have to say, “ I tripped on the rope while doing “Spanish Dancer”-- I went to “get out of town “ and got all tangled up... it could be embarrassing, worth it if you’re me, but embarrassing nonetheless.
So I just watched. I caught one little girl’s eye. She saw me watching. When it was her turn she hesitated. The rope turned and turned and turned and she looked at it, leaned in and then stepped back again, and it turned and it turned, and it turned and I started whispering (loudly) “Now. Now. Now!” Then she went. And she got in. A few turns and she was out. But she smiled at me. None of the other girls had been able to get in like that, mid-rope-turn. When the whistle blew they dropped the rope and started walking inside. I walked up beside her and I said, “Good job.” I raised my hand just slightly and she smacked it and smiled.
Now that was fun.
Quintesse Quintesse
51-55, F
23 Responses Dec 7, 2012

It sure was Papri.
I will never forget it. Thanks

Does that mean you're up for turning? I need someone to turn. That is, I need a couple of people who are not slouches who can keep up with me.

Here's to having fun again :)

I miss fun.

**takes the other end of the rope with Fallflower** come on then!! your turn Q ...

Haha. I can go for a long time you know. Warning- I have a fair amount of stamina happening over here.

That's OK. (I have been known to trip people up deliberately so I can have a turn though ... hehe)

Haha. The infamous "I had an itch" excuse when the rope suddenly dips without warning. I know your type.

darn it ... and I thought I was being original!! haha

Please. Remember who you're dealing with here. Plus- I'm from NJ.

oh well .. in that case ... you win!! **cowers in the corner**

That's what I thought.

6 More Responses

I guess you had to be there. I couldn't just toss my shoes and barge my way in there--there is jump rope etiquette to consider, after all. Truth be told, if it would have felt right I am not really very shy when it comes to self expression and indulging my natural urges, so I will not be regretting this one. It's just that my inner child surfaced so suddenly she caught me a little off guard is all. It's was nice to be reminded that she is alive and well. Have no fear, --but thank you for the encouragement.

I know you still have it in you--so do I. I couldn't crash their game (It wouldn't have been right) but that won't stop me from initiating my own the next time I get my girls together over here.
I actually have an authentic exercise gym rope (which incidently I won somewhere in a basket door prize thing), but you should have seen my face when I went to use it--it was about a foot too long (designed for a tall man?), so I threw it down in disgust and then promptly forgot all about jumping--until last week. Oh, I'll be jumping in the near future. I can guarantee that. But you just stay up on the horse. It would be, as I have suggested, hard to explain an injury...

Next time, JUMP. I have a few really good weighted ropes here at the ranch from when I did a little roping in my younger days. Not much chance of me doing that anymore so I can send them your way, they would make good jump ropes.
Hmm, maybe I should keep one just in case, ya never know. Now me and Dash ain't what we used to be but he's still pretty fast and well I can still toss a loop pretty good. Might just look into it this spring. What? I would look pretty silly jumping rope and well why should the kids have all the fun?

Penny. You are lucky. I happen to live with one so each day is a new adventure for me, but I don't often get to interact with them in groups which quite honestly is it's own special kind of fun.
Tramplining?! You ARE bonkers. Those things will kill you! Oh wait, you mean the little ones? Okay. I could see that, but unfortunately, since I am me, I can also see about 600 ways I could get hurt, anything from sudden self-propulsion into the coffee table or the deck to ankle fractures and sinus headache explosions. I'll have to think about that one, but I thank you for the suggestion, definitely.

You're nuts woman, and I say that with all due respect, haha. I believe those things have just about been outlawed here in New Jersey...
I LOVE the smiley club. Perhaps I will suggest something like it in my district. Brilliant! And, for the record, I think you are just wonderful!

You're right. I really do just like being around them. I liked that we each made one another feel good. Thanks Doug.

We all have that little child inside.

Isn't it sooo freeing, Quin? Enthusiasm is not found; we simply spread it around.

Missed ya...

Thanks. It feels pretty good.

And another thing. I think we are up to at least four for a game of jump rope. That means we're covered. Of course I get to go first--it's my rope after all. I certainly hope you guys are in shape and that your turning arms are healthy. Jumping is hard work and turning is a workout all by itself. Start warming up people!

Thank you for missing me, both of you. You have no idea how good it feels when people write stuff like that.
"I missed you". I think that 's one of the nicest things one person can say to another. It means, "something didn't feel right while you were gone..."
Thank you. I genuinely missed you guys too.

missed you, missQ


Thank you Dinah. It was a very subtle low five, but that is what I liked about it.
It feels good to be back. Not writing is not good. I am now suffering from whatever the opposite of writer's block is.
Thank you for the nice comment

I think what keeps me smiling as I think of this story is the warmth of knowing the inclusion, acceptance and implicit understanding that was there. I love those fleeting and transient connections- that is what makes those special moments. Children are just amazing at making those momentary bridges. :-)

I think you're right, because they don't have their guards up at 8. Anyone who says "hi" to them can instantly become a new friend. It is heartwarming.

How absolutely wonderful to see you are back.

I, too, enjoy revisiting and participating with kids as they play. Such wonder, and to experience full body joy. I loved the high- five.:-) You shared a special moment- what a wonderful way to carry the warmth of a smile and the conspiracy of a happy inclusion within yourself.

May you always find that "hig-five" in your coming adventures. :-)

Good to see you back Qunitesse - Great story!

Thanks my friend.

I used to have a neighbor who at 60 or so would ride a razor scooter down his sloping driveway every day to get his newspaper as I was waiting with my daughter for the bus. He is my idol.
I'm sure that his wife and family told him repeatedly to be careful etc but he was clearly enjoying himself immensely. I find a way to "play" at least once a week, and fortunately I'm not old enough to be considered eccentric or nuts when I am teaching the neighborhood kids how to use the "skip-it" and the stilts --someone has to show them! I have said for years that kids keep you young, even if it is just by reminding you to maybe not to take yourself so seriously, and to remember how to have fun.
Thanks you guys for the kind words.

Who cares! Let's be eccentric! ;-)
Oh those sweet memories, skipping rope, playing hopscotch...

I love all of those games. As a kid I really just loved being outside, doing kid stuff. I still love the outdoors, and I still climb trees and swing on the swings--all of it--whenever I get the chance. Thanks for sharing the memories with me Ricki. I'd play hopscotch with you in a second. Sweet memories indeed.

There were more games I fondly remember like cowboys and Indians, who's afraid of the black man, hide and seek, playing badminton with cheap rackets on the streets; we lived in a village...

What, no double dutch? The next time you're in that situation, you may wish to recall the following words from one of the "great" thinkers of the 20th century...

"Ah, I might as well jump. Jump!
Might as well jump.
Go ahead, jump. Jump!
Go ahead, jump."

~ Roth, David Lee

Haha. That guy used to get some serious air.
I've missed you and your words of wisdom. It is a gift you have quotemaster.
I bow to you, and the Roth man

*raises hand* me next ... me ... me ... me ... !! :D

Thanks you guys. I still think I could have done it. But stupid recess was over too soon.

recess is never over.... it just takes a break.

Beautiful! Simply...beautiful.

it is never the wrong time - we are never to old to...