I came to a curious realization yesterday. I was talking to a friend of mine about something or other, I don’t even remember how it began and he mentioned that he currently owns three volleyballs and I said, “You know, I’m not sure I’ve ever owned a ball, of any description…” The more I thought about it I realized that it wasn’t entirely true, but close.
I took tennis lessons one summer, and there was a tube of three tennis balls that came with that. We had a bocce ball set growing up (although technically I think that belonged to Mark and technically, being British, we called it Petanc.) I have a croquet set, that’s 6 balls right there. But I think that’s it. To my knowledge I have never owned a soccer ball, a baseball, a football or a basketball. I loved those little tiny bouncy balls that bounce higher than your brother and often had a supply of them, but that’s about it.
My brothers had balls to play with – there was a basketball net installed on the side of the driveway. But I don’t remember ever asking for one. I don’t think it ever occurred to me to have one of my own. I suppose it could be a gender thing, but more likely it’s the asking thing. I didn’t show much interest in them and parents, beloved and lovely, knew I’d much rather have a book or craft supplies or, oh hallowed day, a hamster. And they were right.
I’ve been thinking about the idea of “play” recently. In just a few days I’m headed off to Winnipeg where I intend to play thoroughly with my two nieces, and with Dave and Janie for the duration of my stay. I know that there will be board games, and probably bubble blowing and I’m going to try to convince them that we should all go to a pool. It’s easy to play around children, it’s often harder to play as adults but vitality important to do so.
I got me thinking about the tools of play. I’m very good at making sure I have the necessary tools for work. I have work clothes and an iron to keep them spiffy. I take good care of my laptop. I just bought myself a better desk chair to ease the strain my neck endures because I like work that happens at a desk. When it comes to housework I have brooms and cleaning supplies, laundry soap and dishrags. These are important things. But do I make sure that I have the tools I need to play?
For my birthday I did buy myself something to play with. I have a deep and abiding love of pop-up books and at Chapters last Friday I found a pop-up book that teaches you how to make pop-up books! It’s a little meta- if you look too closely, which I won’t, this time. In addition to whole sections that explain the why and the how of pop-ups it has four giant press-out-and-stick-together pages to practice making pop-ups. There’s a dragon and a castle, a jungle and, inexplicably Frankenstein. All I need is some glue and the delicate scissors from the cupboard and I’m all set. Almost makes me wish for a rainy day.
I have a crafting cupboard well stocked with oddments and ribbons and crayons and beads. Well, to be fair, I have two of them. There’s sealing wax and yarn, embroidery thread and very delicate scissors. I still have my flute and a sheaf of sheet music. But I don’t currently own a bouncy ball or a skipping rope or sidewalk chalk. I don’t have a skateboard, or even a trendy west coast long board. Or a trampoline (although admittedly that last one is a bit impractical in a rental). I have a LOT of books, nine bookcases worth between Kendra and I at last count. I wonder what I would pick out if I took myself to Toys R Us. I think I’m going to find out.