Call me lucky, but growing up my parents encouraged me to be outdoors playing with the neighborhood kids. Growing up there wasn’t many things parents had to worry about. Don’t get me wrong, my parents needed to know where I would be and to be back at a particular time, but that was about it.
As a child, playing at the park, racing on our bikes, adventuring out into the hills and hanging down town were some of my favorite places to spend my youth. I attended elementary school in Danville maybe a mile or so away from the home I grew up in. Each morning, I would meet up with my friends Jonathan and Ryan where we would use our imaginations and take a particular ‘hidden’ pathway to our school. It was always an adrenaline rush being the first one through the poles that led through a narrow walkway and into another neighborhood to the school. At school, we use to play house, yes I said house. While we did not have dress up props nor did we have plywood, hammers and nails to use; we would make our “houses” out of the old leaves that cluttered the ground. We would shape the rooms of the house by creating and architecture drawing of different sized squares and rectangles made up of the leaves. Now the leaves never lasted a long time and we had to ‘rebuild” our homes on a regular basis. My friends and I would always be trying to find the next best hide out or place that we could implement our creativity and imagination. I remember Jonathan, Ryan and I finding these curvy bushes in front of someone’s yard located along the way to school. Picture a labyrinth made of bushes similarly to the one in Harry Potter. When no one was looking (or maybe they were, but never cared) we would climb through them and see who can get through them the fastest without being seen by the cars passing by. Oh! where did the old times go?
Growing up, I participated in groups including Indian Guides, Cub Scouts, Webalows, Odyssey of the Mind, Drama and your typical play dates. I loved being in these different groups participating in hands-on learning, a concept that I feel like was acknowledged, then disappeared and is gradually coming back again. I loved competing. I also played soccer for the Mustang soccer league/division. Looking back on my many experiences, I regret not continuing being active in those groups longer than I was. I made a lot of friends, got good at problem solving and even started to write plays. Growing up, I played video games but can happily say that I did not enjoy staying in playing video games or watching TV all that much.
Now as an adult, a husband and a father, I try my hardest to make “play” present. I often will take my daughter, Ariel to the park and we will play make believe, climb play structures, play ball and enjoy spending quality time together. When I am not with my daughter, I will take walks, work out, organize and clean (yes, I said clean) for play. Call me ocd, but cleaning definitely calms me down and is relaxing.