My Favorite Childhood Games – The Caribbean Lifestyle

Growing up in Jamaica, in the 80s and 90s, my childhood was completely different from most of the youths today. It was also probably nothing like many of my friends either. The memories are all great though and when I recall a few of my favorite games, there really is not much else for me to do than sit back and laugh.
Like most kids, I spent all morning waiting for recess. From about the ages of 4-7, every day my friends and I played the exact same game: ‘Bend Down Stucki.’ This was a game of tag that required you to stoop down in order to avoid being caught. As one of the slowest people in my grade, I seemed to always be it, and spent the majority of my recess chasing my friends. Fortunately, I really had no intentions of ever winning and my only concern was actually just having fun.
Then I got my first introduction to video games. Nintendo released the first Gameboy in 1989, and my brother and I got one as a gift. We would sit and play for hours, especially when we had homework that needed to be done. Mario and Luigi became our best friends and whenever we weren’t playing Super Mario Brothers, we were talking about playing Super Mario Brothers. My school had a strict policy stating that no toys were to be brought in, so naturally, my brother and I took every opportunity we could find to sneak our Gameboy to school. We enjoyed two glorious weeks of being the most popular kids on the playground, until everybody else caught up with the trend and got one.
My grade seven obsession was officially the most time consuming game that I have ever played. The ‘Tamagotchi’ was an electronic pet that required attention almost 24/7. It needed to be constantly fed or petted or walked, and would beep incessantly if you forgot to do any of these things. I specifically remember waking up at 2a.m. to feed my plastic pink pet that was about the shape and size of a small egg. I spent the next day at school walking around like a zombie, only to ensure that I did it again that night. I think I was more relieved than anything else when I forgot to feed it long enough and my Tamagotchi finally died.
Our high school campus had several pagodas which as far as I know were completely unique, and had been installed for students to study in between classes. They were made with thatch roofs and a slab seating area within. Needless to say we took full advantage of this luxury to create a game that we ingeniously called ‘Pagoda Football.’ Several children would sit on the available slabs and the ball would be bounced high, controlled and then kicked to each other. The first person to miss defending his section of the slab would be ‘out,’ and one of the endless supply of children who were always waiting to play would immediately take their place. Our principal took a sadistic pleasure in assigning those who had been given detention to clean the pagodas, which were always filthy due to everybody’s muddy shoes. I can vividly recall being on my hands and knees, with a bucket of warm soapy water beside me and a toothbrush diligently trying to scrub away some of the endless supply of pagoda dirt.
If becoming an adult has taught me anything at all, it is to treasure these childhood memories. I look forward to sharing these experiences with my children and seeing them make a comparison between my early years and theirs.