ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

A Bat, a Ball, and a Jelly Jar

Updated on November 14, 2011

A Bat, Ball and a Jelly Jar

A Bat, Ball and a Jelly Jar

It’s no secret that we’ve become a race of techno-heads, determined to keep ourselves saturated in all things techno. Through a steady diet of media saturated influences we have been conditioned to train our eyes on the horizon to be the first to own the latest Flat Screen TV, Cell phone, or computer amazing enough to bang the gong.

Sadly, in the wake of technology’s lure lay the carcasses of decade upon decade of abandoned family living. From board games, to dinner at 5:30, and coloring books (made of real paper), we turned our backs on simplicity, trading it in on glitz.

I can’t remember the last time I saw my own neighborhood kids in a boisterous game of stickball, or Dodge Ball, or even Tag. It’s rare to see a kid outdoors, “playing”.

One of my nephews was visiting me one summer. That was an experience. I had become exhausted with seeing him with a video game control held tight in his fists, so I told him to go out and play. What was I thinking? (!)

“Outside?” ,he asked...rather loudly. That lovable, smiling face of his gave way to snarling fangs in an instant.

In my day (the days of clay tablets) if I was told to go out and play I would have made a new exit getting out of the house before my mother could change her mind, or find another chore for me to do. This 9 year old child gave me the strangest look and asked, “Play what?”

“Why do you want to make me go outside?” He was shooting rapid fire questions at me.

“What did I do wrong. . . I’m sorry, Auntie”, he implored me.

“There’s nothing outside but heat”.

I was stunned by his behavior. He was just short of a meltdown. I was determined that this bright kid was going to go out and sweat and play before he went back home to his parents.

He clearly had not been allowed to exercise his imagination. He’d only been trained to turn on the TV, or play video games.

I had a plan. I gave him a jelly jar; a bouncing ball and a baseball bat that I hadn’t used since my soft ball days. I told him that those three items would have kept me busy for days, probably the whole summer vacation.

Nowadays, schools have banned most contact sports, and/ or recess games. Tag was thought to be predatory and might lead to girls being touched in the wrong way. Dodge Ball was dismissed because it was dangerous and could cause less aggressive children to become targeted and hurt.

If you go to an elementary level school that actually still has recess, if you can find one, you’ll find children walking aimlessly about the school campus like robots in designer jeans.

There’s really nothing for the children to do, short of playing basketball, and with basketball after teams are picked the rest of the kids are left to watch, great exercise there.

The lack of healthy activity leads to cliques and separations. It is natural for children of this age to cling to one another for support and acceptance, without regard to race or gender. Sadly, they are being retrained to do just the opposite of what is natural.

What happened to the days when children couldn’t wait to get home from school, change into their play clothes to meet their buddies for a few hours of play time before homework? Of course, the preponderance of pedophiles and child predators in our midst has done a lot to destroy a child’s sense of safety, but, that’s when the diligence of parents should kick in. We can’t allow them to destroy our children’s early days; it’s the only time in our lives that we have pure freedom to grow emotionally, letting our imagination run free.

Adulthood, is tough enough, children need to know the innocence, creativity and healthy benefit of playing out of doors.

I sat at my desk so I could keep the nephew in sight. He sat on the curb, forlorn and with his back to me. I think I actually saw wisps of steam wafting from his ears. He was livid.

Periodically, he’d turn back and look at me, just to remind me he was mad. I was not moved. “You want a fudgesicle?” I yelled out to him.

“It’s too hot for ice cream. It’ll just melt” He said.

“Suit yourself, sweetie,” I giggle to him.

I saw his lips moving, I’m sure he was cussing me under his breath.

As if by magic, . . .and against all the nephews expectations . . . the sky had opened up and out of nowhere here comes a chubby little sweaty haired, red faced kid with his baseball glove tucked under his arm, and his filthy fingers clutching the last few bites of a cheese sandwich. He yells back to a couple of other boys pulling up the rear, “Yep, guys, it’s a bat”.

“Hey, kid. You wanna play. Were down a few, but we got anuff ta play.”

Before he let the nephew answer he zeroed in on the jelly jar, and with all the excitement he could muster he said, “Sa-weet. What cha gonna do with that jar kid? “

“CanIuseitforaminute.” (in one breath)

“Just what we needed,”

“Come on guys . . . we got us a jar”.

With that he grabs the jar and tells the nephew to come with them. Before he could ask, I stood in the window and yelled for him to go ahead as long as he stayed on the street.

“Oh, he will Miss. We’re only going to the mailbox by the big tree right there”, as he pointed his stubby, dirt encrusted forefinger toward the mailbox about 15 feet away.

The kid adds, “Besides, he’ll be okay. I’ll watch ‘em forya”.

Somehow I knew he would take control.

They took off on their mission, five sweaty little boys. They got to the mailbox and quickly formed a huddle the NFL would have envied. It got quiet and then all of a sudden there was a loud burst of enthusiasm and a loud, “I got ‘em.”

“Put the lid on,. . . hurry up”

“Okay, okay. I said I got ‘em.

“Holy cow, look at that”. . . Hey, that was the nephew. He sounded like he was having fun. Well, clutch my pearls, fun.

After an afternoon of baseball and laughter my nephew dragged his tired body into the house by his collar and mustered enough energy to wash his face and hands for dinner.

I’d never heard him so chatty, ever. He was proud to share with me that he had become one of “the guys”, and they had plans for the following day.

I couldn’t believe this was the same boy, who just a few hours earlier, didn’t even know how to play without a game control to lead the way, the same kid who was just short of spitting fire – he was so mad at me.

I sat his plate on the table in front of him and he gobbled it like it was his last meal. I told him that he had worked up that appetite from playing.

“I know, Auntie. I know”.

I washed dishes while he ate.

It was killing me to know what they’d put in the jar, but I knew it was probably a guy thing. I had to ask.

“Hon, what did you guys put into the jar?”

There was dead silence. I thought, well, maybe he didn’t want to share until I heard the subtle, serene sound of his quiet snores emanating from his face plastered into the side of the hot dog bun on his plate. He still had a fork full of potato salad in his had that didn’t quite make it to his mouth.

I took off his dirt covered clothes and put him to bed. The poor thing was so tired that he never even stirred.

It reminded me so much of my own son. I used to peel him from his dinner plate, too. My son would play until he passed out, literally. He thoroughly knew how to enjoy his outdoor play.

It’s been 15 years since my own son picked up his rod and reel for a day on the bank of the local river, but when he was very young I made it my mission for him to have all of the adventures I had, like catching snakes and frogs, going to the river’s edge and catching pollywogs in a jar and watching them grow into frogs.

I’m so glad to know that my children were able to enjoy nature first hand, not just through pictures in a book. If parents can plant the seed of curiosity early enough, and foster it creatively, that child will maintain his curious nature. Maybe he will even be less inclined to pick up a remote control, or a game control.

Give your child my fail proof playtime trio, a baseball bat, a clean jelly jar and a bouncing ball. I guarantee a day of fun and imagination.

What was the bouncing ball for, you might ask? The new friend could be a girl. Some girls like to play “Bottle Cap”, or “Four-Square”, the bouncing ball is perfect for a girl.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      i love your writing

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      He sat on the curb for a while before the kids came by, but he had the option to use his ball and jar, he just opted to brood.

      Thankfully,it worked.

      Sounds like you have your hands full. I love kids. I love the potential they represent.

      Enjoy them while they're young .

    • Ivorwen profile image


      8 years ago from Hither and Yonder

      Your nephew is lucky to have found friends so quickly.

      Tonight I carried one dirty little boy to bed, who fell asleep shortly before supper. Two others were in need of baths, their faces red from playing out doors most of the day. The other two had made cinnamon rolls for breakfast, and were amazed at the work that baking took. I only wish there were more children in the neighborhood for them to play with.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)