Tall trees, mud pies, toy cars and tin soldiers…..

Ask anyone what their memories of childhood are (well, anyone from my generation anyway), and I would almost guarantee that at least one of these things would pop up.  We were a generation of simplicity….. that’s what I like to think.

My memories – those of climbing trees, making mud pies, playing in the dirt with toy cars and little tin soldiers – also bring up memories of my grandparents.  And perhaps that is all very fitting – today being Grandparent’s Day.

One of my very strongest memories of childhood is playing with the tin of little tin soldiers at my grandparent’s house.  And if I promised to be very careful, I could even venture into the front yard with them.  A place where adventure ran rampant in amongst the shrubs and gardens.  Which I guess mimicked my favourite play adventures at home, driving around little toy cars and making cities in the dirt.  It seems no matter which way I look, being in nature and playing in the dirt are almost always at the forefront of how I remember my childhood.  Those tin soldiers and toy cars have a very special place in my heart, but also a place of residence in my home still today.  It seems we like to keep the things we loved close to us.

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My grandparents are no longer with me, but the memories I had with them are strong.  And I didn’t grow up close either.  We lived at least a 12 hour drive from any of my three sets of Grandparents.  And in my childhood, jumping on a plane and taking off for a weekend was a very expensive option, so we saw each other very seldom.  Visits were always via road trips.  And yet….. those memories and the connections I feel are quite strong, which really surprises me at times.  But does allow me to understand that connection is not always about closeness in proximity.

But back to those childhood memories…..

I often think that we need to do so much more than think back on our childhood with fondness, and a wish that things were more that way for our children today.  Do we even allow the opportunity for that to happen?  Are we ok with our children “out there” climbing so high up a tree that they will probably sit up there for an hour, too terrified to come down?  Do we “send them off outside to play” in the afternoons?  Or are we too concerned with them being inside with us while we get about the chores of the household and prepare dinner?  Do we want to keep them close enough to see?  Are we worried if we are not watching and “something” happens?  Or maybe we just think that the world has moved on, and in place of trees and mud pies are now screens and gadgets?

Take a step back!  I have worked with young children for many years now, and honestly, very few will choose a screen when the wonders of the world await them.  Especially the wonders of outdoors!  And is that not where probably most of our most wonderful memories lie?  I know from talking to many adults about that very thing over the years that is a fact undeniable.  The fear I have, is that WE will be the reason that our children do not know how to play!

And what is play???  Where do I start?  That’s what I kept thinking when I decided to start a blog dedicated to play.  But now I’ve worked it out.  Today of all days.  I start right back at the beginning.  Back where I knew exactly what play was….. perhaps not if somebody had asked me the question…… but if me today was watching me of my childhood…… then I would have it all worked out.  There would be no question at all about what play is and what is learned through play, and what benefits it has for children.  And all those things are the world for us to explore…..

But today, on this day when we are honouring our Grandparents…..  Let’s bring together those generations.  Let’s give them time to soak the wonders of one another in.  What memories will your children carry into their lives of their grandparents??

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