Friday, 10 July 2015

Putting Away Childish Things

One of my daughters was just telling me about a conversation she had with a friend recently. They were reminiscing and her friend told her how on her first day at high school the boy next to her looked round the place in a confused way. There were no swings, no climbing frame, no see-saws. Instead, of a playground there was just a place with benches and a couple of dustbins and a water fountain.

"What are we going to do at lunch?" he asked.

He got no answer. What could the answer be, after all? Bitch? Become a teenager? Eat? (Pray, love? Is that what that book's about?)

Sorry, where was I? Oh yes. Playgrounds. Why aren't we allowed to have them after the age of 12? Playing is a perfectly harmless, enjoyable thing. Why do we have to stop it? Plus all the other things you have to stop if you want to prove you're grown up - colouring in springs to mind. I used to rather enjoy a bit of soothing colouring, but then it vanished, along with swings and monkey bars. I suppose these things weren't dignified but is being dignified really that important?

The same probably goes for afternoon naps, but I rather miss those too, (I hated them when they were available; they bored me, whereas now I'd really appreciate them, which is perverse, I guess, but not as perverse as depriving you of rest at a time in your life when you'd actually benefit). And, instead of those excruciating away days so many of us are subjected to by our employers, why can't we have swimming carnivals like we did when we were younger? Bunting everywhere, cheering and splashing, sun on the water, that is genuine team building.

Do you miss anything you used to do in childhood that is no longer allowed once you enter the adult world?


  1. I don't much miss the activities of childhood. Those who do seem to be able to get them, in a more structured form; instead of playing soldier, you become a Civil War re-enactor; instead of playing cops-and-robbers, you can go to mystery dinner theatres, and now I think of it there are paintball ranges that might cover either case. If you favored jacks, dolls, and hopscotch, as the neighborhood girls used to, I don't think you're as well provided for, and if I had the least interest in black powder of paintball, I might feel bad about that. Most of my favorite occupations of childhood are still available: I can buy a football and throw it around, I can ride a bike, I can walk around the block daydreaming. Now that the millenials have revived it, I could even play kickball, something one did drop at the age of 12, at the cost of standing out among persons 35 years younger. Tag and hide-and-go-seek are about the only games I played then that would look odd played by an adult. I don't think tag is that practical for adults, because the speed differences of childhood grow much wider in adolescence.

    Apparently coloring books sell well these days:

    1. Ahh, hopscotch, my favourite, apart from skipping with rhymes. I'd prefer to sit on a swing for an evening than endure a diplomatic dinner, but I don't think it's an option - although I did see a cafe in Bristol with swings instead of seats (mad idea - swinging and liquids; makes no sense). I am going to have to look up what kickball is and what millennials are.

  2. I really miss skipping along the pavement and watch my younger son enviously as he bounces ahead, joyfully. Sometimes, when I'm sure that there's nobody around, I join in and we skip together. It's as good as it always was.

    1. I miss it too. But I believe there's always someone looking. I also am trying to believe that it doesn't matter if there is