Come out and play with me,
And bring your dollies three;
Climb up my apple tree,
Look down my rain barrel,
Slide down my cellar door,
And we’ll be jolly friends
What does it take to solidify a young friendship today? I’m not sure, but likely it is something other than most of the above.
“Dollies” may be present and loved but in the form of characters unlike real babies or fancily dressed little girls with curls.
Apple trees to climb aren’t commonly in every backyard today. In fact, any kind of trees for climbing have been replaced with smoothly constructed playground equipment offering fewer challenges. Nothing can replace a slim sapling whose height you struggle to conquer and cause it to bend to the ground under your skinny weight.
Rain barrels are coming back and we are encouraged to catch water in them for our use. But they are often made of plastic instead of metal and they are closed at the top. Falling leaves can’t get in and float around as boats; there’s no proliferation of wiggletails that swim through the water; it’s impossible to baptize a cat in these enclosed barrels; and you cannot line up around the rim and peer down at the contorted reflections that your faces make in the water.
What’s a cellar? The refrigerator keeps foods cool in the summer and we buy potatoes at the supermarket when we need them instead of storing the harvest in a slatted bin in the cellar to last through the winter. There may be a basement in today’s homes, but access is easy through a conventional exterior door or even by means of steps inside the house. No heavy, sloping cellar door ideal for sliding down and running up and creating all sorts of daring feats.
How many children hover over doodlebug craters and compete to see who can make the ugly doodlebug appear first by chanting “Doodlebug, doodlebug, come out of your hole; your house is on fire and your children are all gone.”? How many hunch over tumblebugs and cheer them on as they roll their dung balls up an incline? No cattle nearby to supply materials.
When my five-year-old great-grandson asks me to play with him and tells me what character I am going to “be” I have no idea whether I am the good guy or the bad guy. In either case, I have no clue as to how I am supposed to act. My simple childhood life was void of training for his world. I blindly try to “play it cool” hoping my performance will not negatively affect our love for each other or our “playmate” friendship.