Like a Kid Again

So there I was on my weekly sortie to the horse barn, and a little snow squall blew through. The temperature was hovering around 40F, so nothing was going to stick, but the wind was ferocious, and the day FELT cold enough to snow.

When I realized, “Hey, it’s snowing!” my heart leapt up. My pleasure in the moment was spontaneous, but as predictable as winter itself. I love the sight of the first snow flurries and always have. In my family, there’s an oft-told story of one of my brothers, calling home from some far-away young adult adventure, and the pretext for his call was simply to crow to my mother, “It’s snowing!”

When I got home from the horse barn, I found an email from one of my sisters warning me that if a box of bulbs showed up in the mail without a note, that was her Christmas present to me–early enough so I could plant them before the ground froze. I typically plant several hundred bulbs each fall, and the thought of having yet still more to play with maketh me to smile. That my sister knows me well enough to add to my bulb stash is another cause for joy. (And if I run out of room on my own two acres to plant bulbs, I go freestylin’ up in the woods.)

Why do I like to plant flowers? Since childhood, I have enjoyed playing in the dirt. Flower gardening means I  can be outside, away from life’s vexations, puttering around with simple tools in hopes of making my springtime a little cheerier.

Reading was also a childhood pastime. My father believed that television was the devil’s invitation to idleness and mental passivity, so we were forbidden to watch TV on school nights (unless the Grinch was on, or a Charlie Brown special… Dad made a few exceptions). But we were allowed to read anything we could get our hands on, and I recall at least one summer when my mom got me to the library often enough that I read through every musical biography they had.

All of this puts me in mind of what a very experienced foster care supervisor told me years ago: We know which kids will probably succeed following a foster care experience, and which kids are more likely fail. Two factors separate the successes and failures in most cases. First, somebody showed the successes a healthy definition of love, and, second, somebody also saw to it that those kids had a healthy definition of play–recreation, messing around, having a good time, and enjoying themselves.

In the current situation, I can see how absolutely vital it is that I have the time and means to play. To hug a horse, to delight in snowflakes smacking me in the face, to curl up with a good book (Captain Lacey, represent!), or to while away an hour digging in the dirt restores my soul.

Do you play as you did in childhood? Is there a form of recreation you enjoyed earlier in life that you hope to get back to? To one commenter, I’ll send a $50 Amazon gift card.

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19 comments on “Like a Kid Again

  1. 1
    Marianne says:

    I had a lot of freedom and I want that back. I rode my bicycle to the library. I checked out whatever I wanted, except for the summer it was non-fiction only. I was out the bedroom window at 5 am in the summer to go riding… somewhere, anywhere. The rule was I couldn’t touch anyone before 7 am. I would have been seven, eight. I went to Germany at 16 for a year and a bit. I put 100,000 plus miles on my first car, and it wasn’t new to me.

    I scrapped lesson plans for a soft ball game if we got a rare sunny day in the spring.

    I still call an emergency day off when a new Grace Burrowes book comes out! I am still adept at not doing what I don’t want to do. I still cut snowflakes, mix brews in the kitchen, make slime. I don’t build forts out of scrap lumber in the blackberry vines anymore, but I understand they’re called tiny houses these days, and who knows?!

  2. 2
    Teenie Marie says:

    I am drawing more–all because I decided to impulse buy a William Morris coloring book! I had to have some fancier colored pencils and then got some plain paper and then….well, it kinda snowballed after that. It’s soothing and I’ve enjoyed getting back in touch with my inner artist.

    I always enjoyed coloring as a kid and drawing too. I took an AP Studio Art class in high school and didn’t have time to do anything visual art related after that. I now have a whole box full of art supplies and am working on SOMETHING from the box at least once a week. Makes me feel good despite the Pandemic.

  3. 3
    Mary T says:

    Even as a child, I was not very interested in physical games or activities. Sports means nothing to me. What I loved most was art, literature and music. Pretend games were always my favorites. Using my imagination was always important to me. This has served me well in my old age.

    The one physical thing I do miss is the ability to take long walks. But I am able to read, so I am able to go to so many places (and times) in my mind. Thank you for your beautiful stories.

  4. 4
    Susan G says:

    I have been walking on the weekends- trying to get my 10,000 steps in. After Labor Day, I started walking the beach with my neighbor and now I am bringing my younger corgis.
    I like the beach walk— the smell of the ocean, the sand and the time alone to think. I remember spending days at the beach in the sun with my parents, sister and brother. Times were simpler — no virus and social media was non existent.

    I avoided the beach this year because of the virus. I did not enjoy a day in the sun or a walk until September. And I didn’t realize how much I missed it.

    I also miss being with my friends and not worrying about getting sick. I have seen two friends regularly since March. I miss seeing people, talking and sharing a cup of coffee or tea.

    I am hoping that the vaccine works and things return to normal- or a new normal! And that we can go outside and see friends without being afraid.

  5. 5
    Pam says:

    Awww, I’m so glad you got more bulbs and get to do the things that you enjoy. I’m retiring next year (before June, I hope) and I suspect that when my life is less regimented, I’ll find the time to once again do the things I used to enjoy. Some needlework, walks with the dogs (it’s dark here when I get home) – I may even watch TV again and become addicted to a new or old series.

    I hope you keep on smiling and laughing with joy.

  6. 6
    Beth says:

    Long walks on the beach hunting for sharks teeth were such a part of my childhood that I had a baggie full of our finds tucked in with my mom at her funeral to the confusion of future archaeologists & delighted giggle of my mom if she knew.

    Reading to the point my dad had the age restrictions removed from my library card to the consternation of the librarians of the day who couldn’t conceive of a child reading adult books. That remains a joy.

    Bike riding on a purple & white banana seat that I took a horrific spill off when the lengthy pole I was jousting with got caught in the spokes of the front wheel. Horsies followed until a borrowed mare fell on me when she slipped at a double oxer. (Anyone see a pattern of me hitting the ground a little hard?) Surgery followed so I moved on to rehab, which led to…

    Swimming to the point of being on two teams simultaneously just to get lap time in the pool. Soccer on the boys’ team in high school because not enough girls were interested, which meant I could kill them at practice, but not play in the actual games. (The more things change…insert cliche)

    I’m no gardener as I’m too absent minded to remember to water or feed things, but I’ll scrape away happily as a volunteer on digs or shoving the sieve basket for small finds because it’s mindless relaxation & I’m perpetually curious about those who’ve gone before. Assorted health issues have stopped that for now, along with museum tromping & travel.

    Discovery days on Amazon music are fun. Thanks to the all-seeing bots staying confused by my wide-ranging preferences, I’ve discovered everything from gravel-voiced Russian folk singers to Arabic I’m not sure what as I don’t understand a word, but it’s catchy to dance to as I’m cleaning house. And Bollywood soundtracks + my gyrations are becoming a regular thing.

    I’m enjoying playing dress-up with the contents of my closet now I’ve dropped enough weight to have variety & actual style in my wardrobe + no employer overlords to control my choice. Thanks to the kindness of a YouTube influencer or two, I’m dabbling in finger painting on my face adult-version with lovely high-end cosmetics & fancy implements that leave pleasing results when I catch sight of my own reflection.

    And my artistic side also shows itself in journals filled with beautiful ink colors scribbled using fountain pens with exotic nib sizes. No F or M mediocrity allowed!

    Playtime!

  7. 7
    Glenda M says:

    I do still play, Grace! Two of my main forms of play are ones you mentioned: reading and playing in the dirt. I only got back into playing in the dirt the past few months, but this morning’s breakfast included cherry tomatoes from a couple plants that are still producing!

    I also consider cooking and baking forms of play. I am about to begin making some of the 7 or 8 batches of fudge for this holiday season’s gifts. Most will be bourbon, pecan, chocolate fudge, but I will make a couple raspberry, walnut, chocolate as well. The biggest drawback to baking as a hobby during Covid times is that with social isolation, there are far fewer people to whom I can pass off the items I bake. My husband and I could eat everything, but do not need all those calories.

    Happy Thansgiving!

  8. 8
    bn100 says:

    not as much free time to play

  9. 9
    Make Kay says:

    We didn’t get to watch much tv either, but even if offered the option of a tv show, I typically chose reading instead. The best pastime ever!
    I enjoy gardening, and although I wasn’t always a fan as a kid, I hope to get back to a vegetable garden in the future.
    And I too love the first snow flurried. They are MAGICAL

  10. 10
    Karen H near Tampa says:

    I don’t play the same as when I was young since I played outside, mostly, with my 4 siblings and we’re too scattered and old to do that these days. I’m old enough that we were pretty free to wander around on our own in those days. Nowadays, I don’t like outside here in Florida since there are too darn many bugs and I have never liked those. I hope to get back to needlepoint and quilting one of these days when I declutter the stuff that’s currently in my way. But my favorite thing has always been reading and I still play that way every day!

  11. 11
    Elaine says:

    Grace,
    This is completely off topic, but I loved your latest Wentworth book! Thank you for brightening these weird times with such an interesting family. (Don’t tell the Dornings, but the Wentworths are higher on my favourite list.) I am so looking forward to Stephen’s story this winter; it will take the chill right out of the air.

    Have fun with your bulbs! What a treat they’ll be in spring!

  12. 12
    Tina Armato says:

    As a 10 or 11 year old, I built a “dollhouse” for my Bonnie doll…yes, I had the cheap imitation of the Barbie doll! The worst thing about Bonnie was that she was tonsured—like a monk. She had rooted hair around the crown of her head, but nothing in between, which made styling her hair less than satisfying. But I digress. For her house, I took an extra large coat size gift box, opened it, and created two rooms with a door between. The walls were only about 6 inches tall, but I imagined Bonnie always enjoyed good weather and never noticed the lack of a roof. I made various pieces of furniture out of cardboard, paint, fabric and glue. I particularly remember making a sink out of a plastic bubble from some package and painting the underside of it so when it was suspended below Bonnie’s kitchen counter, it was shiny like a real sink. She also had a refrigerator and stove, bed (complete with bedding!), couch, lamps, etc. She had quite the elegant studio apartment when I was finished and best of all, I could just fold it up and put it away when Bonnie and I got tired of each other’s company.

    Fast forward (too fast frankly!) 59 or so years to our pandemic present. When my part time job pretty much evaporated and I became bored out of my head, I found dollhouse kits on Amazon and ordered a mini kitchen (since cooking is my very favorite hobby). After quickly assembling the tiny kitchen, I looked around my house for another distraction and came across a Victorian dollhouse kit I’d purchased when my daughter was around 2 years old. Silly me, I thought I’d have time to raise 2 rambunctious human beings while simultaneously assembling about a million tiny plywood parts into a Victorian mansion with carriage house! Now, with nothing but time on my hands, I have rediscovered the art of the tiny! Of course, 59 years later my fingers are much more clumsy than they were at one time, but patience is being rewarded and I once again feel a purpose, something to look forward to, some thing to fill the interminable hours between breakfast and dinner! The house is mostly put together now, with paint and wallpaper being applied to the interior. I still have windows, roofing, the brickwork exterior, and shutters to apply along with assembling the carriage house, but hey, I’ve got nothing but time! I am finding this every bit as enjoyable as building Bonnie’s dream home though sadly I don’t think Bonnie made it through my childhood—she may have lost her head compliments of my big brother.

  13. 13
    Ellen Ziegler says:

    When it comes to planting flowers we both share that love. I bought a house in a senior community but you own the small plot of land along with the house. Therefore HOA for lawn moving and mulch and plowing snow in the street costs $95 a month, not the usual $450. we border a golf course and the 12th Tee is about 5 yds from our back yard. There is about 25 yards of woods between our back yard and the Golf Cart path leading to that Tee. WE don’t own but the Golf course does not do anything to it. I plant Daffodils of different types and Siberian and Japanese Iris sporadically throughout that woods so I have something pretty to look at. I pretty much have filled my garden but any perennial that needs dividing is given away or gets planted in the woods. I find the time between January and April is a great time to look at flower catalogs, because then I do not go stir crazy wondering what is going on underground. Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays and Happy planting Grace! We are both so blessed.

    • 13.1
      Ellen Ziegler says:

      The Tee is 50 yards away not 5 but I can not edit my remarks. What I wanted to say was, I learned to love gardening because my mother felt it was a man’s job to work in the yard while women worked inside. So as I washed our stupid dishes at age 7 by hand I looked out the window over the sink and watched my Dad plant annuals all along the 175 feet deep lot that they owned in the Burbs of Buffalo NY. I loved him and he was so patient to show me how to plant that I would almost cry as I did those darn dishes. I do not know how clean they got with one swipe of a washcloth and hot soapy water. They got a quick rinse, I finished quickly and ran into the back yard to help him. To this day my hands start pulsing once I can turn over the soil, I need to get them into the soil.

  14. 14
    Brenda U K. says:

    I am a little sad to say I can not do some of the things I did when a young girl.Living on a farm and surrounded by farmworkers sons

    e I became a tomboy.Climbing and jumping out of trees,riding imagining horses,fighting battles with wooden sword and saving the world from evil beings from outer space.Always outside rain or shine hot or cold.Imaginations running wild and story telling endless.No wonder I was a late starter in the dating stakes when reaching a young woman.Did make up for lost time though!!!.Now I enjoy being outside,I enjoy seeing trees and plants,flowers,parks,people enjoying walking,running,cycling,dog walking,children playing.I find a bench to sit on and just love to observe all.Where there’s life there is always hope.I maybe getting on but such a lot still makes me happy.The sea looks rough today but it may be calm tomorrow and so it goes on in out.A strange business this living thing.

  15. 15
    KarenM6 says:

    I don’t play the same as in childhood… jumping in puddles, unfortunately, makes me think of having to clean or replace my shoes instead of joy and splashing water and laughing and fun feelings on the feet.
    But, I do play! For example, I made a painting for a friend the other day. I enjoyed the whole process and her reaction when I gave it to her was SO lovely!
    I did art in my youth, too… not a lot, but I did do it. I remember painting a cactus with a super blue sky that I thought was good… who knows if it was, but _I_ thought it was, so that’s all that matters.
    Reading is a big play time for me (both in youth and now)… getting lost in stories and characters and other “worlds” is just the best!!! There were about 20 years where I didn’t read anything, but I have returned with a vengeance. 🙂 I can’t see me giving it up anytime soon as it gives me such joy.
    While I don’t have a backyard to play in (climb trees, run after butterflies, watch worms wriggle and aerate our earth , listen to and see all kinds of beautiful birds), I do very much enjoy going to a local park and just walking around or sitting on a bench and taking in the sun and air.
    And, a joy from before I can remember is playing with my cats and dogs. I hope I always have wonderful animals friends to care for and play with.

  16. 16
    Taline says:

    I enjoyed riding my bike! When I see people riding, I have such an urge to hop and just go down a newly paved hill(ah, memories).
    My brother and I used to spend summer nights playing tennis in the cool night air.Hitting a perfect back hand was such satisfaction!
    We always try and get together at least once or twice a year now.

  17. 17
    Sarah says:

    My play is much tamer physically than when I was young, no more climbing trees for example, but I am fortunate that my kids keep me playing on our walks etc. We just grabbed some more board games to learn as we are on stricter quarantine again in my state. Some books are pure play to me too, ridiculousness and adventure and laughs. But I enjoy as much the tearjerkers I suppose, just not so much as play.

  18. 18
    Rebecca says:

    Playing the piano is one thing I did as a kid I would really like to get back to. Still have the piano, and all my fingers, so I should be capable, in theory. I quit in a huff around age eight, when my piano teacher wouldn’t let me skip past “Carry Me Back to Ol’ Virginnie” after several weeks of either messing up the notes or the timing. As a tenacious adult, I understand that communication would have been key to helping the teacher understand my problems with the song, and I can appreciate since I didn’t communicate, she thought it was best to make me keep trying to master the song. As a stubborn child, I just thought she was punishing me, and the more she pushed me to try, the less I practiced the song, and my frustration with both her and the piano increased weekly. Hindsight is 20/20, as they say.

    I would also like to take up bike riding around the neighborhood the way I did as a kid, but it seems to hurt more to bicycle as an adult.

    I almost jumped in a big pile of raked leaves this fall to see if I could remember why that was so amusing as a kid, but then I had horrible thoughts of unseen sticks goring me and needing to go to urgent care. So I refrained. 🙂