Many of the things I find fun and playful now are things that I enjoyed as a child:
- Walking around the neighborhood
- Visiting friends for a chat
- Baking, cooking, and sharing food
- Reading books and talking about them
- Dancing and singing (poorly)
- Scrabble and monopoly
I don’t have early memories of my childhood and I don’t remember playing with toys. I remember playing rounders with balls we made from plastic bags, playing jacks and hopscotch, and skipping rope. I grew up with cousins nearby and other neighborhood children would also come over to play. The three memories that stand out for me are:
When I look back at my childhood, I always felt loved. I was precocious and got in trouble at home and school for being rude and we didn’t have the wide variety of toys available today, but we had fun. I had fun with my friends. What I remember isn’t an object (besides Anne of Avonlea) but rather that feeling of being with friends and having fun, or traveling into the magical world of books. That’s a feeling that I can still achieve to this day. I access it when I meet close friends for brunch, go for a walk on my own, read a book that captivated me, dance to one of my favorite songs (or any sound that calls to me), have close friends over for dinner. This is the feeling of enjoyment, a playful feeling where I can be myself without fear of criticism or judgment. It’s a precious feeling.
- Cooking and feeding the children in the neighborhood from when I was 9 or 10. I remember trying to bake a cake once that never cooked and never quite getting lemon meringue right. However, I had a lot of other successes such as guava cheese, fudge, jams, homemade pizza, cake and fried chicken.
- Reading Anne of Avonlea. I loved that book along with books by Enid Blyton. Then I graduated to the Babysitters Club, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and Sweet Valley High. (There was no one who looked like me in those books but I never thought of that. It would be a few more years before I discovered Toni Morrison and other Black authors.)
- Having a birthday party with my friends one year. I wore a red skirt and red and white striped shirt. I must have been 10 or 11 and it is my only memory of a birthday party when I was a child. I remember getting gifts but have no recollection of any of the gifts. But I loved my outfit, eating cake, and dancing with my friends.
What’s your idea of play and fun? Do you have a special object or a favorite toy from childhood? What feeling does it bring up for you, and what are some ways you can experience this feeling now?