In the 50 and 60's when I was growing up, we played a good deal of our spare time. Often we played outdoors, making mud pies, making houses in Dad's shed. These houses were not only homes to us, but often were hospitals, churches for weddings, and shops.
Play was often quite physical with the customary games of tiggy chasey, hopscotch, skip jump and marbles and jacks. At school play time we made houses out of stones in the playground. We re-enacted shows on TV such as Flash Gordon and Jet Jackson.
When my children were little, they played similar games to us and I encouraged them by playing with them and making cubby houses for my little girl, Sonia. She would spend many a happy hour making me cups of tea and serving them to me in her tiny china tea service.
Her brother Mark often would jump on her cubby house, trying to fly like Superman, a tea cloth tied around his neck. Sonia and Superman would often have a falling out! And later on they were joined by their brother Greg and sister Dianne, getting a ride on the back of their older siblings' trike with the little trailer on the back.
I can still remember with fondness my older son's patience with his baby sister as she toddled up to his cricket bales, knocking them off for the hundredth time, chuckling as he replaced it. She obviously thought that he was doing it for her amusement. They were happy and healthy times.
Today, I have noticed a shift in play. Children don't seem to have much imagination. They get bored easily and need constant stimulation. One child in our family needs a DVD to watch in the car because she gets bored going out and about... bored? I can well remember our fights to have the window seats when Dad borrowed a car for our once a week outing. Everything was exciting!
We had an imagination that came from a natural curiosity with the world, not through constant stimulation of TV, DVD's and computer games.... There aren't even a lot of children out playing with new bikes and toys in the streets on Christmas morning like days of old. They are too busy being entertained by cyber games and computers. They are getting old and fat before their time.
I saw a documentary recently that said that we must return to the old ways of play, for in them children gained insight to how things worked, and became socially skilled. They learnt many skills both vocal and social and learnt how to co-operate and how to assert themselves without resorting to fighting. They became more confident.
It also found that children who were denied the chance to play with other children or outdoors, lacked the social skills and motor skills found in children who played in the old-fashioned way.
Recently, I have been minding my grandchildren and I have been encouraging them to play out of doors. They have been having a great time riding their scooters, digging in the builder's sand, making mud pies and generally behaving like *children*
It has been good for them and fun for me too. Hearing their laughter reminds me of their mother Dianne and my other now grown children playing as youngsters and it is comforting to know that I am doing them a service by letting the children play.
© Glenys Robyn Hicks
And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof. Zechariah 8:5