Night Games

I didn't really like Summer as a kid, either. Except at night.

On Summer evenings, when it got dark, all the kids from the neighborhood got together to play 'night games'. We'd play kick-the-can or sardines or no-bears-are-out-tonight or tag. We'd watch the windows for dark shapes moving through the early shadows - tells that the games were afoot. And if you took too long getting away and you were missed, a whole group of kids dressed in black would show up at your doorstep to retrieve you. The parents all seemed to know how it was supposed to work, and - miraculously - were all on board. Except for the few deadbeats who made their kids come in early. Before it got really dark. Before it got really good.

Back then, none of the neighbors fenced their yards, so the entire neighborhood was our playground. And the entire neighborhood was fair game. It was heaven.

But we stuck mostly to the back side of the neighborhood - the yards that bordered the creek that marked where our neighborhood ended and the foothills of the mountains began. The yards there were all heavily treed with winding paths and lots of shrubs and shadows and places to hide.

The real magic of Night Games was that everyone played with everyone. That didn't really happen anywhere else. Kids were always nice to each other at school or at church - but we all stuck fairly closely to our own age groups.

But not at Night Games.

At Night Games, everyone was ageless. And the summer nights were deliciously long.

Now all the yards are fenced. At dusk, all the children are gathered safely behind the locked doors of their secure home.

I understand the change - and I keep my little chickens tucked safely beneath my wing myself - but I still mourn the loss of that kind of implicit trust. That kind of shared feeling of safety - that unspoken understanding that everyone kept an eye on everyone else (and everyone else's kids). I still mourn that kind of childhood.


Janey said...

Oh man, night games were THEE best and exactly how you described. I 100% mourn those times and the fact that my kids might not enjoy that same lifestyle. Yet another reason I miss simpler times.

Jennica said...

I just ran through the old neighborhood a few weeks ago and all I could think about was those incredible night games! Hooray for youth, endless summer, and yards without fences!

Matt and Carolyn said...

I totally remember doing that too! We always played Kick the Can, Hide and Seek, and Tag. We used to park all of our cars randomly in my cul-d-sac for a more challenging game. Oh, the good ole times!

The Aprecios said...

Stepper, I could honestly cut this post from your blog and post it on mine. I have the same memories. You ahve motivated me to post about day.