Sometimes when I tell the kids I am teaching on the games I used to play when I was a kid, they look at me as though I came from another planet.
In this era where playstation and other sophiscated computer games rule their world, the games I used to play as a kid have since gone the way of the dodo bird in their world. I told them I used to get a kick playing the ‘ye ye’ or ‘zero point’. They have never heard of that. They never knew that joining many rubber bands together to form a skipping-rope like thing can lead to the fiercest competition amongst girls ( and even boys ) back then.
It was pretty simple, really. Join the rubber bands entertwined with each other until it forms a long rope. At least 3 players are needed, two to hold the rubber rope at each end, one to jump across the varying heights beginning with the ankle and ending with the head. To compete further, an ‘inch’ above the head is added. The rule of the thumb is, no part of our body can touch the rubber rope. Once any part of our bodies accidently touch the rope, the jumper ‘mati‘ and the next person has to jump. This rule only applies to the waist down levels. There were also the jargons attached to the game. Like the ‘twist’ where one has to jump around the rope held at waist length around 5 times.
Such a simple and cheap game like that teaches kids more than one skill, now that I look back at it. I learnt the names of the body parts bilingually via this game as the rope had to be placed at different heights from the heel, ankle, knee, waist, armpit, shoulder, neck, ear and head. Next, I learnt target setting. Starting from crossing over the zero point and then moving on to the next level, I learnt that once we can jump one height, we can practice to jump higher and higher. It also taught me team work, as when there were 6 or more people playing, we need to be divided into two teams and each member of the team had to cheer on/train other team mates to jump higher. The competition can be quite fierce hence I learnt to be competitive. Not to mention that in all those, my gross motor-skills got trained as well. A bag of rubber bands in those days cost a mere 10 cent. But we learnt all that and more.
There were other games I used to play too. Like the batu selembat, made with green beans sewn into leftover pieces of cloth. There should be 5 mini beanbags and we played by throwing it up into the air and catching them back in some form of patterned movements. This entry actually came about as I was cleaning the library and found a set of batu selembat I bought right after I got married to teach the husband how to play this game. This game taught me precision. How far to throw to catch it back. It also taught me the importance of mastering basic techniques ( for throwing and catching ) before I can engage in other sequences. Hence I learnt the importance of fundamentals.
And oh.. there were the pick up sticks. My childhood friend Budin and I used to collect used satay sticks, washed them and played pick up stick. And there were jelon, goli, congkak and games which needed no equipments at all like ‘sembunyi-sembunyi ( menyorok )’, police and thieves, jelon and the list goes on. Oh the exhilaration of it all! And they all cost next to nothing. Maybe some did, like my collection of play cards like donkey, old maid, snap and happy family. Each deck of cards was 30 cent a pack.
When I talk to my students about all these,very often they think I am telling them some fairy tales in long faraway lands. But this was my childhood sans Toy R Us and computer games. The cheap but exhilarating childhood that I had and which they don’t, despite the sophiscated things which money can buy.
I think it is time to revive those games back, no?