Playtime – Part I
“It is a happy talent to know how to play.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Wren and Charlie like to vroom cars up and down the arms of the couch. They like to make heinous hacking sounds (and scare the shit out of their mom) to make each other laugh. She is almost two, and he’s almost three. They’re on the verge of some serious shared experiences, way more intricate worlds of play with lots of arbitrary rules and featured characters. I can only imagine the funny, strange, and creative worlds they’ll create. Enviable are children and their wholehearted commitment to imagination.
In tribute to Charlie and Wren’s future adventures, I’m indulging in a trip down my own memory lane of play – it’s a bit shocking how the sense memories come flooding back with a bit of focused introspection. Recalling even fractions of past sensations makes my current adult world seem much smaller, much more contained. Remember falling asleep on the way home from a “grownup” party, the wonder at waking up and discovering you’ve traveled so far? The feeling was so big, so expansive. Imaginative play is the ultimate exploration.
When I think of my first childhood home, I think of fuzzy carpets, the color of a cup of milky tea. The carpets felt lush and squishy under my toes in the winter, but hot and dry in the summer, when the sensation of acrylic pile chafing the bottom of my heels made me cringe.
The wall-to-wall tan carpeting played an integral role in one of my sister and I’s favorite games. Game rules: roll Megan inside a cream-colored wool afghan until her small body merged with the afghan into a human egg roll. Drag her slowly around the house, taking as many twists and turns as possible to cause disorientation. Roll her gently up or down the stairs. When finished, Megan must guess the location.
Our house was a modest, little two-bedroom Cape, but it was easy to fool my little sister into confusing the downstairs bedroom (at one point my bedroom and at one point her bedroom) with the living room. When she emerged from the afghan, she never failed to shriek with wonder at the unexpectedness of her whereabouts. Our small world felt boundless.
When it was my turn to burrito up, I’d eagerly jump into the cozy cocoon. Once wrapped, my world became small and warm, with little points of light peeping through the holes of the pill-y afghan. Instead of trying to follow Megan’s footsteps to their logical conclusion, I relished losing myself in the game. I didn’t want to know where I’d end up.
Two small woodland beasties