May 21, 2009


Sometimes it amazes me how knowledge seems to jump from one generation to the next. I'm not talking about math or history here, I'm talking about the little things that you catch your children doing and think "I used to do that!" Except, you didn't teach it to them. They just seem to know it.

The other day, as Briton climbed off the bus (Always the first off! Unless, that is, he has fallen asleep that is) he rushed up to me, thrusting a folded paper in my face.

"Mom! Pick a number! I'll tell your fortune!" He smiled, holding what I used to call a cootie catcher inches from my nose. On the top, in his boyish hand, were four numbers. (Not, as you might think, 1-2-3-4, I think it was 1-8-14-62, who knows why)

"Eight!" I told him

"Fourteen is a better one mom." He told me in a whisper.

"Ok, Fourteen." He counted and asked again, showing me the inside (again, weird numbers and again, he advised me which I should choose)

After a few more rounds he let me open my "fortune"

"'You Rock!' Well, thanks honey." I told him

"Oh, no, your is "I love you!", you picked the wrong number!"

Well, kid... But he was off, telling another fortune. And as I watched him I thought back to my own cootie catcher days. Back when I could fold one of those with my eyes closed, and out of almost any size piece of paper. Post-it notes, receipts, giant pieces of newsprint that my father brought home from the paper. They were fortune telling devices, cootie catching traps, boy-irritating toys. I had planned, I'm sure, somewhere in my mind, to teach him to fold them. But it seems that some second or third or fourth grader beat me to the punch.

The same thing seems to happen with chants and songs and playground games. And that, is what amazes me. The fact that without planning, without trying, all those little tidbits of my childhood, all those hand clapping tunes and odd-ball jokes and cootie catchers that occupied my after school and recess hours are being passed along. S

omeday soon I'll hear Evelyn singing "Say, Say, Oh Playmate" and clapping along. Or I'll see Briton playing Wall-ball or Speed-Ball(any Pendleton HS Speedballers out there?) or, heaven help us, trading Garbage Pail Kids Cards (Lord I hope not, those things were weird! Why did we like them?) And I'll know that someday they'll catch their kids doing the same. The playground classroom goes on and on. After all, everybody needs to know how to tell a fortune, or get cooties off their sleeve now and then.