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What happened to kids outdoor games?
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Forsyth County News

Who used to play hide-and-seek as a child? We did all of the time, especially in the summer months.

I have such fond memories of those warm nights. We ran through neighborhoods, hiding in bushes, under decks, behind trees, brushing off the mosquitoes and scratching at fresh chigger bites.

Base was usually negotiated, as were various rules, such as whether a player had to be “tagged” or just “seen,” to be disqualified.

Sometimes these negotiations got heated, particularly when older boys were involved.

The funny thing is, in all of the years of playing hide-and-seek or pretty much any game outside, I never once remember my parents calling for me or my brothers to come inside.

Times sure changed, didn’t they?

When our four children were young, if they played hide-and-seek outside, especially at night, we were right there with them.

Remember playing Marco Polo in the swimming pool? There was almost always controversy during that game since inevitably someone accused someone else of cheating.

And, arguably, it is pretty hard not to open those eyes at some point for fear of swimming into the side of the pool.

Another game we used to play was “Cigarette Tag.” This was a game of tag that players could win “safety” by yelling out the name of a brand of cigarettes before being tagged by whoever was “it.”

How hilarious that a bunch of little children actually knew enough cigarette brands to keep the game going.

We also used to switch it up and use names of candy, gum, sodas and other things.

While children’s knowledge of cigarette names is probably surprising to younger readers, many others remember these were the days when the Marlboro Man was a tough-looking cowboy on television commercials, and smoking didn’t have the stigma it has today.

My father smoked and it wasn’t until the fire department brought a black lung (yuck) to our elementary school that I had any clue smoking was unhealthy.

I cried many times, begging my father to quit smoking. He did eventually, years later.

Kick the can was another popular game. This always reminds me of an episode of “The Twilight Zone” involving a group of young children who play kick the can in front of a nursing home, where a lot of old people lived.

The inhabitants were mostly forgotten by their loved ones and one of the residents begins playing kick the can with a few others and they magically become children again.

Sort of reminds me of seeing grandparents play with their grandchildren. They suddenly seem 20 or 30 years younger.

Children have such a sweet innocence about them, and the way they look at life is so refreshing to those of us who see all of the bad news out there.

I am sure children still play some of these games, but it does seem as if electronics have taken over.

Everywhere we look young children (even toddlers) are playing games on their devices. And this must carry over when they are at home.

It’s hard to imagine that one day, when these children are adults, they will look back with the same fond memories I share.

Will they really opine and say, “Oh, I used to love playing Candy Crush so very much?” That seems unlikely.

For those who are parents or grandparents of young children, please encourage them to get outside and play some “old-fashioned” games that involve exercise and human interaction.

I am convinced these games are better both physically and mentally.


Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at