While recess gave our teachers a well-deserved break, the playground taught us life lessons no classroom ever could.
Our mid-1960’s playground was equipped with 12-foot monkey bars with nothing but asphalt below. Kids took turns on the swings and merry-go-round—with the object to swing as high or go around as fast as possible—again with asphalt to catch any mishaps.
No worries though, teachers routinely cleansed open wounds with iodine and a stinging yellow liquid we all dreaded—merthiolate.
Fiercely competitive tetherball and Four-Square games often would outlast recess. The coveted server’s corner was hard-earned and only displaced by losing a game.
A pasture grass field adjacent to the playground worked well for fifteen minute games of kickball, Red Rover, tag, or for indoor recess the most formidable—dodgeball.
Those small rubber balls could be thrown as hard as possible at the opposing side. Nothing like the sting and ball imprint on the side of the face for the next half-hour.
Being chased, taunted, or bullied was rather common for some. A recess buddy was indispensable—being in a two or threesome helped prevent unwanted attention.
Once, when a classroom friend was being teased at recess, I stood between the challenger and the young girl. I boldly told the kid to be nice. I subsequently had the sashes on my dress torn loose by the bully.
But as I retold the story to my mom later, she encouraged me to always be ready to defend those who are too scared to defend themselves. Thereafter, my sashes were frequently ripped during recess.
By junior high recess was history, but the lessons remained:
- To experience life, climb high.
- Going fast can be fun, but spinning out of control isn’t.
- Winning requires skill that requires practice.
- Having a buddy in life is more than nice; it’s often needed.
- And the best one? Defend the defenseless, because not everyone is nice.
Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Ephesians 4:2
An enemy might defeat one person, but two people together can defend themselves; a rope that is woven of three strings is hard to break. Ecclesiastes 4:12