"Well, there is only one piece of advice I can give you," said the wisest of wise men. "The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon."



('The Alchemist' Paulo Coelho)




Friday, July 18, 2008

Let the children play

One of the features on TV this morning was a recent report which proclaims - wait for it - that it is a 'Good Idea' to let children play freely; as opposed to carting them around from one structured activity or another for the whole of their spare time. One has to wonder how many man hours, brain cells and milions of pounds were needed in order to come up with this world-shattering conclusion and what planet these 'experts' currently inhabit.
When I were a lass... yes, I know that is more than a few months ago, school holidays stretched before us as an endless source of pleasure and delight. OK, maybe there was the odd time when I complained of being bored, but it didn't happen often; of that I am sure.
Keith and I were talking this morning about the sort of things we used to get up to in our holidays and spare time. I recalled my sister and myself giving impromptu concerts to longsuffering parents and neighbours. (I taught myself to play the piano - badly and basically, it's true, but I enjoyed it.)
As we didn't have a car, the garage provided space for our museum, pride of place in which was taken by the stuffed red squirrel donated by a neighbour and I even used to produce a museum magazine. Heaven knows what I found to put in it, but it used to cover three sides of foolscap paper. (No A4 paper size then.) Then there was the allotment. Now I was never a keen gardener but I used to enjoy collecting minibeasts, especially the yellow striped snails, which then ended up in the museum as live exhibits.
When I was about eight, I had a much disapproved of friend, ( always in trouble) who came round to play in the summer holidays. On the first day, we took the hood off my sister's doll's pram and made a swing of it. The problem arose when we fixed it to the clothes line, which then completely collapsed when we tried to sit in it. The following day, my friend, Veronica went up to the bathroom and somehow dropped a glass jar into the wash basin. I did try to pretend that the resulting crack was really an indelible stain but the game was up when water started leaking the next time someone went to use it. After that, Veronica was banned.
Keith, of course, being a boy, went for bolder pursuits, like walking along the top of a hedge (how?) and making an underground den with his friends, in which they lit a fire and attempted to fry bacon and eggs, narrowly missing asphixiation, I'm sure.
These days, he'd probably be taken into care.


7 comments:

  1. Well I've just checked my Playstation, Xbox and Wii catalogues and can find no games like wot you've mentioned - so of course they can't be any good.

    Sonic can be made to walk along the top of a hedge but then he would, wouldn't he ? Being a hog an all.

    No, if a pastime can't be listened to, plugged in or watched on tv, then modern kids aren't interested.
    The theme of "The Neverending Story" is coming true.

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  2. Ian! You don't still play with toys, do you???

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  3. Ah, yes, those long hot summer days, stretching in front of you, ready to be filled with reading, lounging about on friends' lawns, cycling for miles around the countryside (and without a mobile phone!!), and playing board games like Monopoly while raiding the parent's drinks cabinet ... happy days!

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  4. Reading on a rug on the lawn (we had sunshine in those days) and making dens at the bottom of the garden. Skipping, elastic skipping (which we called "American skipping" and Whip and Top, with my friends, for hours and hours and hours. Better stop now before I have to put myself into a museum.

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  5. You're right, Daphne, we did have endless days of sunshine then.
    Jay, I like the last bit best. ;)

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  6. Mmm - I liked that bit, too! LOL!

    I did a spin-off post about this. ;)

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  7. I'll pop over to have a read, Jay.

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