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Play? How Do I Do That?

I know very little about playfulness, and I think it is because there are no grandchildren running around my house.

Kids, especially the ones removed from our constant supervision, open us to play. They know how to have fun without planning or structure. They are hardwired to explore,swings 6 discover, create, laugh, cry, run, experiment, question. And they drag us along with them as they make up rules, find new paths, seek answers, and delight in unexpected results.

They don’t know there might be correct ways to do things, or final answers that are wanted. They simply allow their minds and bodies to meander, accepting swings 10whatever comes along.

Recently I read a book suggesting we take an hour each week to play, by ourselves…just play. The author believed that this ‘play time’ would get our artistic juices perculating and help us be more crreative.

I failed this assignment. Try as I might, I didn’t know how to play. I didn’t know what to do for fun, especially alone.

As a child, I played with my sisters and the kids next door and from down the street. swings 8We played tag, chased each other, caught balls, rode bikes, skated, drew pictures, harrassed our parents and our neighbors, made noise, and laughed hilariously.

We strung string between our houses with a can on each end, making a primitive telephone that, of course, didn’t work. But if we yelled loud enough we could hear one another and pretend we were successful.

Clothes line tents were biggies, back in the day. swings 3We used old blankets, as I recall they were stamped with ‘Army’ or ‘Navy’ , smelled old and were drab green in color. We also dragged out some quilts and somehow constructed a hideaway that we considered safe and secret, although they were in full view of anyone who stepped out in the backyard.

Oh, and we had a metal swing set, that would be considered hazardous in today’s world. It had two swings, and bars that came out on each end of the structure that we could hang from, climb on, fall off of, and delightfully entertain ourselves.

And our bikes led us to lands beyond our yards. swings 2We could go over a block, or even 2. We could pile 2 or 3 kids on a bike and pump like crazy to stay upright and attempt to see around the person on the handlebars, hoping we didn’t run into something or someone.

Yep, as a kid, it seemed to be easy to play, even if we hurt ourselves. We fell, we tumbled, we skinned ourselves, we bled a bit, we cried, we got up, and went right on playing…’cause that’s what kids do. They play.

Hum, guess I’ll run outside and find a park with a swing and see how high I can go. Can I go over the top? swing 1Maybe, if I let myself play.


36 thoughts on “Play? How Do I Do That?

  1. Did you find a swing? That is a way to play. Get you a coloring book, puzzle book or a funny novel! You will have fun playing. Liked your post and it brought back memories.


    1. I haven’t found a swing yet…or at least one that will fit me. But I did get some jacks (you remember those, don’t you?), and a coloring book sounds like a good idea. Especially those new adult coloring book. Thanks for the advise.


  2. The memories spilled in on this one, Margo, especially the summertime flashbacks. My parents would unceremoniously shove us out the door in the early morning, allow us briefly back in the house for refueling around noon, and then there was more shoving, with no expectation that they would see us again until nightfall or someone did something stupid that required medical care.

    We spent the entire day using our imaginations, aided now and then by something interesting we found in our rambling travels, creating universes in wide-open fields or deep in the woods or near a frog-croaking pond. There was something fundamental and right about taking what little you could find and infusing it with the magical elixir that children have, a star-touching investment in what-could-be that the young have (or at least used to have) before the young become older and the doors start to close and the valiant adventures become wispy, dissipating.

    I still remember the frogs at the pond, burping wetly, a signal from the King of Pondlandia that we must now rush forth and confront the ne’er-do-wells from that other group of houses down the road, all of us waving finely-crafted stick swords and dying noble deaths full of romp and circumstance. Or playing “King of the Hill” around whatever pile of dirt or gravel or tires we chanced upon, engaging in that unfairly-balanced competition wherein whoever was on top of the pile basically stayed there, whilst the rest of us tumbled repeatedly back down the hill, screaming and laughing and not really caring if we banged a knee or tore a shirt, developments that would not bode well when we finally staggered home.

    And then there were the quiet moments, safely back at home, lying in the yard, clutching our Mason jars full of lightning bugs. We would stare up at the sky, simply breathing, our bodies tuckered out for the evening, but our minds still buzzing with the fires that had been stoked by possibility. Each star was yet another adventure, another opportunity, another chance to be King. We hadn’t yet learned that there are only so many kings, and that those stars were much further away than we realized.

    Still, even though I am now somewhat long in tooth and decidedly short on possibilities, the fever dreams we embraced, back yonder, are still with me today. I know that the stars are far, but that doesn’t mean I still can’t reach, and I briefly catch the faded lightning bugs with my jar, and I name them, remember them, and I tell their little secrets in my writing, my stories that are often absurd and surreal. And then I let the lightning bugs go, blinking their way towards another child, lying in their yard, looking up, dreaming…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh my gosh Brian, your response is Fabulous. Rich, warm, funny, and beautiful. Trying to figure out how to use this in a post so everyone will be sure to read it. I’ll figure it out. It’s too good not to be broadly shared. Thanks.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Well, your post managed to hit just the right nostalgic button with me and the words just tumbled out. Reading my comment again this evening, I think I’ll turn this into a blog post myself, which you can then share. Or you can create your own post as well. But you should always feel free to use my words whenever or however you see fit. We think a lot alike, and I trust you completely…

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Please carry on with the reblog. I’m about to hit submit on my own post, and there’s a little blurb at the beginning directing folks to this post, so hopefully we attract some like-minded folks to each of our blogs. I love meeting new people and sharing experiences…

        Liked by 2 people

      1. For some reason it was showing me as not following you, so I clicked the button again. I know you were in my Reader, I just wasn’t getting the emails anymore, so hopefully it’s fixed now. 🙂


  3. I’m reblogging your great post! Playing is a great way to release stress. I try to spend a few minutes each day playing – even if its just art doodling in a coloring book.


    1. Well the big tree branch is certainly having fun playing with me. One good thing is that increases bonding with dad. He’s almost 93 and is out there every morning trying to help. Whatta guy! Almost down cutting into pieces for removal so that has been fun in its own way.


  4. This sounds so much like my childhood! I do consider myself very lucky to have grandchildren who “come to play.” Seeing the world through their eyes is a gift of joy, and while I am tired when they go, they leave behind an attitude adjustment! Nice post…Jo


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