Memories of Childhood Play

Children Playing in Goel's Tree by Kathy Hauge (click on image for larger version)

There's a screened porch on the side of the house I live in with a view of the green between my driveway and drive into a municipal parking lot. I love sitting on my porch in the warm weather, sometimes to work on my lap top and sometimes just to relax and watch the world of a a small town go by.

There's a fair amount of foot traffic passing by and often enough children, upon rounding the corner and spying the open green, often rush the lawn in equal bursts of joy and play. Moms and dads take a step back or sit on the park bench while the youngsters get some pent up energy out of their systems. There are no swings or slides or jungle gyms here, just a grassy space in which children can be children.

Watching the youngsters delight in their simple play makes me wonder about such moments in my own childhood. I'm sure I had times like these and have some memories of this kind of visiting Cherry Hill Farm with my family. But I'm hard pressed to recall such moments with any detailed accuracy. I wish I could more easily tap what I believe is a great store of happiness from my youth, now largely forgotten...

The children I see from my porch seem to be having the times of their lives. It's sad there's not some way for us to store up the memories of happy times and save them for sorting through and enjoying later in life.

On the other hand, it's true, isn't it, that the memories of the difficult times often return with a sharpness we wish we could dull. Would that we might recall the moments of shrieks of laughter rolling down a hill at a farm as easily as we remember the sad times, with the tears they bring back to ache in our hearts and moisten our cheeks...

While we never reach for a camera in moments of pain, the hard times are imaged and safely stored in the albums of our hearts, always there to visit again. But to recapture the happier days, the heart's memory books are not always enough. Photos, hard copy and digital, help to jog our hearts' recall of joys and smiles now slipped away.

An uncle of mine recently passed to life with the Lord and the family is gathering pictures from the past. It's wonderful to see them! They're photos (and scans of photos) of the happy days and it's good to see them and to refresh the joys we may have too easily forgotten.

Often we need the memories of the good days to help us make our way through the grief of the day at hand...

When next you see some children playing, take the time to watch and try to remember the days when you were a child, as full of joy and energy as they. Try to remember the days filled with laughter and the love of those who have gone before us... Hold on to the joys you recall: treasure and keep them all in the albums of your heart.

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  1. Sweet. Poetical. Thank you.

  2. yes, why is it that painful memories are so strongly cemented in our minds and hearts?
    thank you for all that you said here-
    it definitely helped me to remember the GOOD memories- and many details- so I know they are there-

    even those memories that really aren't that long ago are so easily lost and forgotten- (but now I know they are not really forgotten, just very overshadowed and hidden well by strong, painful ones)-

    the memories that are good are ones where I was playing alone, a very simple play, where I was lost in my own world- safe...

    thank you.

  3. Thank you - beautiful reflexion. So true.

  4. Children at play, such a delight!You are right that we often do not recall our own times of childhood play. As parents, we unfortunately do not remember the joys of our children's playtime as much as we do their moments of mischief! We are too busy trying to help them grow up to be good people!

    BUT then comes grandparenting where the task of raising good people lies largely with someone else!! Here I can bask in every tiny little "first" and the details of their play. This week-end our grandson learned to clap for the first time and it brought tears to my eyes! I delight as I watch pur grandchildren frolic in the kiddie pool, swing on the swings, and take pride in their first kick at a soccer ball!! What a true gift grandchildren are!!

  5. My earliest memory of childhood play is that of spending early evenings in our yard making clover necklaces and bracelets. As you mentioned, catching fireflies/lightening bugs in jars was always a fun activity. I always poked holes in the lid so they could breathe. In later years, the neighborhood kids would all gather to play "Kick the Can," "Mother, May I," etc. And then came "Snipe Hunting"!!!

    Did you put playing cards in the spokes of your bicycle wheels?

    My favorite summer activity was hand cranking homemade peach ice cream. My mother would let me lick the dasher! Yum!

    I hope that kids today will make room for some of these activities. They may seem old-fashioned, but sometimes the simple childhood pleasures can provide the best memories.


  6. Excellent post and great advice C.P. Carpe Diem!

  7. This post fills me with nostalgic memories of my own childhood now !
    "Sounds and smells and sights, before the dark hour of reason grows." ( Betjeman ).
    There is so much daily magic in watching a child play , and even better without the participation of an adult!

    Nice post - Many thanks.

  8. (had to comment again- this post really got something in me moving)

    Philomena, you said, "...and even better without the participation of an adult!"

    I really do like to play with children- do art projects, just sit on the floor and build with blocks, anything- but, I think equally as important and fulfilling is stepping back and observing them.
    And both are beneficial for both the children and adults.

    thanks again.


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