What Fun We Had As Children
We made creative use of whatever we could find to play with, even our environment. A hill could be a mountain or a dinosaur, and a stream could be a river or a moat. Our bikes could be magic carpets and our arms could be wings. Whatever our imaginations could dream up, we would live happily in that world for a time.
I remember early one morning our grandfather took my brother and I fishing with him on the inter-coastal waterway in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. We were next to a high bridge that crossed the river, sitting on a cement sea wall as we watched him prepare the bait. I was probably about 5 and my brother was 21/2 years older. He may have been interested in learning to put bait on a hook but I clearly was not.
I began to walk on the sea wall and hop, skip & jump around the area where our car was parked. My grandfather, presumably worried, told my brother to go and look after me. We ran up & down the hill that was the side of the road leading up to the bridge. We chased each other around the cars and over to a nearby building, probably playing cops & robbers.
Then my brother found a some large pieces of cardboard near a dumpster. Our grandfather called at us to come back closer to him, so we grabbed some cardboard and ran back over to the hill. We were used to making forts with cardboard boxes because my father owned a furniture store and we often played behind the building.
These boxes were not quite big enough to build a fort, so we made a tunnel. While crawling through we began to slip & slide as we were on a grass covered slope. My brother thought that was even more fun, so he flattened a box and ran to the top of the hill, flopped belly down on the cardboard and went head first down the hill as if riding a sled. He was smart enough to roll off as he neared the bottom.
Naturally I followed his lead, but decided to sit feet first, as I was a lady & wearing a dress. “Push me, push me”, I screamed. But instead he ran up and jumped on behind me and we both went grass sledding down the hill. We continued like this for as long as our grandfather was fishing or until we totally wore ourselves out and it was time to go.
From that time on we often asked our parents to let us go fishing with grandpa, or for them to take us grass sledding instead. I think they did a couple times, but then someone put up signs saying “Keep Off The Grass”. Too bad they spoiled our fun, those bureaucrats!
Why do we grow up I sometimes wonder? Do we have to lose our creativity & imagination to become adults? Is it just that we lose that dynamic energy of youth, or is all this reality really draining us and pulling us down? Down a slippery slope of a different kind, and we become afraid to run back up the hill.
Fortunately, if we keep that spark of childhood memory alive, we can extend our creative mischief through our own children, and grandchildren too. I was so fortunate to be able to pass this lovely memory on to my own children one summer. After my parents had cleared the back lot of their summer cottage grass began to grow on the steep slope behind the house. One weekend while we visited my children discovered how much fun the lovely long grass on the hillside could be. Not having any boxes, mom provided them with paper shopping bags with handles. We both enjoyed reliving this memory as we watched my children learn to grass sled.