How, you might ask, do hula hoops build relationships? Of course I know that by themselves “things” do not build relationships, but nonetheless they can be a wonderful tool. In third grade I loved to play kickball with classmates, roller skate with neighborhood friends, and bicycle with my sisters. These activities, made possible because of an old rubber ball, a pair of metal roller skates, or a shiny Schwinn bike, seemed to magically create a special bond between myself and others. In fact, the child inside me still yearns to play and reap the benefits of building relationships, especially when my grandchildren visit. I find myself spontaneously building forts with fuzzy blankets, precariously climbing trees, and haphazardly running through the sprinkler.
My grandchildren and I use those blankets, tall trees and sprinklers to escape into a world where nothing matters but the carefree moment we are experiencing.
It is a powerful time for bonding with my precious grandchildren who, as my mother would say, are some of the “jewels in my crown.” Although we have had hours of fun playing with various toys and games the one toy that stands out in my mind as a tool for strengthening my relationship with my grandchildren is the simple, but classic hula hoop.
When I think of old-fashioned family fun, hula hoops are right up there with jacks, marbles, and jump ropes. In the summer of 2012 I decided to build a little camaraderie in our family by introducing them to the sport of hooping. Surprisingly enough, it takes a bit of coordination and stamina to twirl a plastic hoop around your waist. I figured my family could work together to experience the triumph of victory as we learned a new sport. Since hula hoops are simple to make I decided to ask my 12-year old granddaughter, Auri, to help me. Together we cut 100 feet of flexible piping and formed 30 hula hoops. As we decorated them with brightly colored electrical tape we envisioned various hula hoop games we could play. We couldn’t wait for the big day when we would reveal our handmade hula hoops to her cousins. In preparation, however, we decided to test the final product. We giggled and laughed as we tried to master twirling the hoops around our waist. As I watched Auri, I saw a young woman who someday would be playing with her own children and she saw a grandma that wasn’t afraid to be carefree and have fun.
That day we connected in a way that bridged any “generation gap.” The hula hoop project had brought us closer together.
The “power of the hula hoop” was proven again during the reveal of these vintage toys to the remainder of my grandchildren. Auri and I presented the decorated hoops by first demonstrating to our attentive audience the proper hip action that would keep the hoops twirling around their waist. Within seconds each grandchild had a hula hoop and with great exuberance was working hard to twirl it. It was a hectic couple of hours, but amazingly everyone felt successful for having attained at least some level of skill in hula hooping.
That night as I lay in bed contemplating the day’s “hoop fest,” I felt a stronger connection to my grandchildren. The time I spent with them was something money could never buy. That summer every visit to my house meant twirling hoops with grandma. It is a time I will always remember, a time I discovered a new apparatus that was quite useful for strengthening a family.
Yes, I believe that hula hoops can build relationships.