Thursday, March 3, 2011

Fervent slaps (not a violent kind--read on)

Let me tell you what made my day today.

I was driving home and all of a sudden I saw something that was just, ahh, delightful.

In front of an elementary school was a group of young children jumping rope.

I instantly smiled.

What you will notice about young children jumping rope is that very often they seem to struggle with getting beyond that first successful jump of the rope (if they even successfully make the first leap). The next time you witness a child jumping rope you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.

The thing that made me so happy when seeing these children today, what made them just so perfectly precious, was the fervent forward


of their ropes.

Over the head, feet go up, and


The rope hits the ground in front of them.

Then moments later they are repositioning themselves, wrists bent slightly backward, ready to whip that rope forward again.


There it goes again.

That try, try again mentality of kids...oh how quickly I give up on things!

It really makes me wonder, if I could be six again for a day, and someone put a jump rope in my hands, if I would come back to my twenties after that day willing to work harder.

Heck, if you gave me a jump rope now I'd be so freaking lazy. I'd skip, skip, skip, "Yep, I'm done, boss." And I love cardio workouts. But think about it. I don't think I know anyone in their adult age--do you?--who jumps rope as a hobby. I mean, it hurts! It's exhausting, and painful! And tedious!

Friends, when I'm in shape with an open afternoon in front of me, I will sometimes run for an hour, and love every minute of it. Even when it sort of hurts, I'm just so used to the rhythm that I keep going and it doesn't usually hurt anymore. Or it's a good hurt, at least.

But I feel that jumping rope (aside maybe from double dutch, which I would love to learn, if anyone out there wants to teach me--leave a comment!!) is really perceived as, and meant for, exercise purposes alone. By adults, anyway.

But when you're a kid, it never crosses your mind--well, it didn't cross mine--that your gym teachers are trying to teach you a skill that is maybe not fun, but good for you. When they have you run the mile, you know that's because of what they taught you in health class: it's good for you.

But I only have fond memories of jumping rope as a child. It was fun!

The piece of this that I'm happy to say I can still identify with is the downright giddy enjoyment of learning something new. When I'm in a really interesting class, I can take furious notes. I raise my hand so much in research class. When Bill Bryson tells me in A Walk in the Woods about trees literally communicating with each other to prevent the spread of disease on their limbs, I sit there saying, "That's incredible!"

I at least vaguely remember the enjoyment of learning to jump rope. I remember that feeling of success, as you're slowly but surely able to hop the rope consecutively two, three, ten, twenty times! And then it's just a matter of how long you can go without getting too tired.

"Cinderella, dressed in yella,
went upstairs to kiss a fella,
made a mi-stake!
kissed a snake!
How many doctors does it take!"

I loved that rhyming game.

The kids I saw today looked like they were trying to make the (literal) leap from one hop over the rope to two.

And they were having fun. They were learning. And doing so without a (literally) too cool for school attitude.

I could recognize that fervent hunger for reaching success, for getting to the next step that would take them to the step after that, in their fervent slaps.

As I passed in my car, I saw a man sitting diagonally across the street from the kids. I can't be certain, but he seemed to have a pleased smirk on his face while witnessing the show.

The last glimpse I had of the children was of one boy in particular. He was sitting on the pavement, untangling his rope from around his ankle. Right before I had to finally turn away and look at the road, he was on his way back to his feet. Ready to fervently slap some more, I'm sure.


  1. Does it make me really cynical to wonder why the man was sitting across the street from a school watching the children? Maybe I've just watched too much TV.

  2. that doesn't make you cynical--well not any more than i am! no, i definitely think negative thoughts like that a LOT, but i was pretty hopeful that he was already sitting there innocently.