My oldest daughter drew a picture entitled “Recess at St. Mike’s” that shows a girl standing frozen in place, with a ball and chain around her ankle, unable to play.
Quite revealing, isn’t it?
When I was a child, we hopped on bikes without helmets, only wore sunscreen at the beach, and ate peanut butter sandwiches. I understand that the world has changed and seat belts are wise — but along with new, necessary safety measures this generation has put into place, society has burdened children with fear.
Childhood is a time to play in freedom and joy, freedom to lose themselves in the sheer joy of the present moment, without nagging regret about the past or fear of the future. My family was and is fortunate to live in the country, where my children roamed safely, caught frogs, built forts, explored a creek, and created wonderful imaginative games.
One example stands out in my mind. I had gathered everyone for dinner but we were waiting for Anthony. Someone spotted him out the window and called the rest of us over to see him. There was Anthony on the platform of our large wooden play structure, wearing his usual uniform consisting of a black cape, black barn boots, and grey felt hat, engaged in a fierce sword fight with an imaginary enemy. Suddenly he clutched his chest and staggered over to lean on the railing. Then rallying his draining energy and stamina, he suddenly rose up and with a courageous flourish thrust his sword into his evil opponent and collapsed in exhaustion and agony.
We were all delighted with his imaginary play.
Children need free, unstructured time to play, to let their imaginations fly.
This can only happen if we refuse to allow our own fears to burden our children and if we give them the time and space to simply be children, God’s children.
Copyright 2018 Melanie Jean Juneau