Having cleared up any thought that I was just going to wax nostalgic about the past, I begin my posts on fun and games with a consideration of shoe strings. These long cords, capped with eglets(a word only useful in crossword puzzles) were a constant irritant in my childhood. If I tied them too quickly they came undone and threatened to trip me. If I tied them too tightly I ended up with a knot I was unable to undo. I clearly remember believing that I could never be a mother because I could not get a knot out of a shoelace.
But shoelaces were just right for the hand game of “cat’s cradle,’ pictured in the illustration above. The game took two people, both of whom needed to know how to make the moves and both of whom were willing to play at any given time. I rarely found another girl to play this with, so I usually only got through the first steps, the one’s I could do alone.
One summer, however, when we spent six weeks at my grandparents’ home in the country, my mother was unusually relaxed. She patiently went through the whole process with me with a grand flourish of “ta da” when we finished. After that she showed me “Jacob’s Ladder,” another string design. I was amazed at this playful side of my usually harried mother. I remember the game with fondness as I see the two of us under the large sycamore tree playing with a shoestring.