SERIOUS ABOUT PLAYING

Recently, my husband and I happened to drive through the town I lived in until I was ten. As we neared my old street, I asked if we could drive by the house. Because it was evening, I wasn’t sure I could find it in the dark. Not to mention it had been several years (or decades for those counting) since I was there last. As we drove slowly down the street, I strained to find familiar landmarks.

The homes were a mix of vague recollections that pulled at my memories and others that didn’t register. Within my block, the houses also reminded me of the people who lived there when I was young.

Finally, I located our house. I wasn’t sure at first because it looked different than I remembered. But the house next door was definitely our neighbor’s home so that had to be ours. We turned around a short time later and drove by again. This time, I was able to know for certain we had found my childhood home.

My mind was flooded with memories. I could envision the rooms inside and my siblings as we played in the yard. The only trouble was, somebody shrunk the yard. The street was no wider than it had been but there was not much yard out front. As a child, the yard didn’t seem so small, but as an adult, I realized just how small it really was.

As a child, most everything seemed larger. Remember playing “king of the mountain” on a dirt hill that was probably only a few feet high? We felt like we were climbing Mount Everest. Riding our bikes to the park seemed like a long, long trip that was only a few blocks. But, we felt like we were miles from home.

Adventure was everywhere and imaginations fueled them. We left the house after breakfast to live out the day as pirates, cowboys (or cowgirls), or a dozen other scenes with kids from the neighborhood. Lunch was eaten at whoever’s home we were near and we came home for supper tired and happy. We didn’t have a lot of fancy toys, but we had time and our imagination to use what we had for great adventures with our siblings and friends.

We felt like we had traveled far and wide over the course of the day. In reality, the distance was really quite small and only covered a few houses or a block or two. What we saw as adventure, our mothers knew was a safe circle as each one watched over, fed…and corrected the behavior of all the neighborhood kids as they entered their yards to continue the story line.

As I looked at the size of our yard, I marveled that children found adequate space for the current adventure. We were satisfied and content with the “lot” we had. It was enough and it was magical.

How sad that we lose that perspective as we become adults. What if we once again found opportunityin whatever we do have, sharing the experience with those around? To enjoy the simple act of a meal or potluck – bringing what you have and sharing with friends. Have an indoor camp-out with your kids or grand-kids. Bring out a board game or sit by a fire telling stories from the past. These are the key moments that grow in our memories…small efforts with large rewards.

One thought on “SERIOUS ABOUT PLAYING

  1. This brought back so many memories of playing in the empty lot beside our house or down in the creek just behind it. There was a whole world to explore, and we covered every inch of it almost every day! Yet we were only one ‘holler’ away from home. It makes me sad t think about the kinds of memories our kids might have — memories of sitting in front of a tv or telephone pushing buttons to conquer the world.

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