It was Jump Week at my children’s school this week and once again I was off on the skive. This time my excuse was back pain. With my numerous visits to the GP and hospitals, it was an easy pull.
I arrived just gone closing hours and was herded into a great hall almost the size of half a football pitch. Not that that would have helped Germany win the Euro Cup. Better luck next time. My first surprise was the mountain of skip ropes dumped on the ground in a corner of the big hall. Never before have I seen so many skipping ropes assembled in one spot. There were many bright fluorescent colours, ten for each colour of the rainbow.
The children were put in groups and rotated onto the floor by a blast of a teacher’s whistle. After a few round, making sure that every child in the hall had skipped at least once, a wheel barrow was pushed round with skipping ropes heaped on high. The child burdened with the load was struggling to keep her manoeuvre straight while another two girls the driver’s age picked some ropes and started foisting them on us poor parents. I had gone to see my children enjoy a few rounds of skipping ropes while raising a little cash for charity; I was not expecting this surprise. For those who have been following my progress on getting a bit more groove into my middle age spread, I am sure you would understand why I took the rope with more feelings than one.
As I stood up, awaiting the shrill of the whistle informing us to skip out hearts out, I was taken back to the days in my youth as I had skipped through the streets, enjoying every single moment of it. I was no pro or one to take the ropes seriously. For starters, I never joined a club as children are wont to do these days; I never represented my school in any of the skipping activities or even competed in any such likely tournament. I did it for the sheer fun of it. I could go up to three hundred skips, front and back, run and skip in and out of other flung ropes four in a row and do one leg hops up to nearer a two hundred count. Granted, I could do the basic Jump, Speed Step and Leg under X. Not bad. My heart could take it. The few things I couldn’t muster was skipping two simultaneous ropes or swapping lefts and rights, while I skipped. I could not do the Double Under or even the Criss-Cross. My hand foot co-ordination has never been one to help me achieve that. Besides, knowing how hard I found it to start things, I mostly never got round to having a proper go at it. I just hopped the twine as much as the children before me were having the thrill of their lives.
The whistle went and we started skipping, I mean us parents. A mother, also a child in her own right, tucked into it and started skipping faster that she probably ever had. Before she could do fine her baggy jeans, which had erstwhile been drooping from under her bum, they scaled down her curves revealing a not so slightly pair of knickers. Dropping the ropes, she pulled up her wayward briefs and sat down embarrassed, half the adult eyes on her. It wasn’t a case of her not having belt straps on the trousers or a lack of belt which was probably overstated in any case; on this occasion she was just another fashion victim. I suppose the no less than seven blings hung around her neck or the six to eight on each of her fingers, thumbs included must have weighed her down a tad or two. Maybe, she just could not lift her skinny malnourished weight as a result of the so far unmentioned numerous jewellery that clung on to her body for their own dear lives; they were hanging from her ears, nose, eye, navel and other places on her anatomy I dared not imagine possible. None of the extra load she was wielding was making life for her that nimble, not that it had helped her achieve the impulse to catch the slippery garment. But she returned with renewed vigour, giggling her embarrassment away, her trousers, secured in place this time.
I enjoyed the experience of the skip, as I am sure the children did. Babies were doing it, even those who could hardly walk. We were all skipping, laughing and having a whale of a time as the not so wise ones amongst us constantly whipped the rest of us with their ropes, thanks to their not knowing how to judge spatial relationships. By the time I got home, I was whipped blue and my body was aching more from the lashings than from the physical exercise of the jumps. I had been transported to such glorious days, I could hardly imagine how I had managed to forget about this past time. Whoever invested the skipping rope idea has my kudos. So simple, so cheap, so exhilarating, all it takes to foster a child or two. As we drove from the school back home, I made a quick stop over at my local sports shop and gathered a few skipping ropes for the family, plus two more. One was for the accidental damage that one is apt to get these days of cheap imitation; the other was for our expectant fourth child, the foster child.