Mar 12, 2011


Do you remember Bop-it?

In AP British and World Literature, we were discussing Alice in Wonderland, but more importantly the use of play - our types of play as children, what made playing effective and enjoyable, when playing stopped and why it stopped. I found it quite interesting.

When I was little, I used to play a ton of house and school. What made this so enticing was that it was pretending to be something that I wasn't. The more elaborate the play was, the more fun came out of it. Such as for school, we had to have desks and pencils and a white board and tests and a red pen to grade with...

I also used to climb trees. There's something magical about getting dirty when you're a little kid. I used to equally love and despise getting twigs in my hair and bark underneath my fingernails. It connects you with the earth. Does this mean we are more connected with our roots of the earth as children than when we get older?

Barbies. Need I say more?

We made forts in the living room, stretching out the entire room. Two stories, of course. The carpet was the first level while the chairs to hold up the blankets and the couches were the second. We were so excited. We wanted our parents to come in, but they were never as thrilled as us. They had already lost the innocent magic.

Notice how everything is "we." Play was so much more fun when it involved multiple people. Imagining by yourself was doable, but enjoyable when shared with others.

Everything was so imaginative. We had these elaborate stories filled with passion, rage and all types of conflict. We were acting. We were allowed to be who we were not. It was beautiful.

Then as we get older, the connotation of, "Hey, do you want to come over and play?" became dirty. The correct wording of the phrase morphed from this to instead, "Hey, do you want to come over and hang out?" That's what the cool kids say. And when you hit sixth grade, everything revolves around being cool.

All of the magic of childhood is forced to be discarded. The element of growing up eliminates the curiosity and inspiration of innocence.

Is it perhaps because pretending to be older - in school and in house - is what we've become? Is the magic lost because it's something common we live through every day?

What about climbing trees? I still find joy in that, but nothing compared to my seven year old self. Is the connection to nature diminished? Shouldn't we pay more attention to it now that we are able to comprehend the destruction? Shouldn't we embrace it and protect it daily?

Play can still be found today, though. Look at video games. It's the same imaginative stories enacted as children, yet their used through the movement of thumbs to a joystick. A fanatical world we can physically see. It's universal with the other players as well. Is that why people adore them so greatly? A play we can still be accepted to play as adults?

Oh, play. A longing for childhood. We always desired so badly to grow up then. Now we all wish we could go back to the past, a simpler time, where things were full of magic.

How do we find that magic today?

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