Wednesday, June 01, 2011

the tools of play

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.


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Mom 2 Teens said...

Just the other day somebody asked what I like to do to play. I was left dumbstruck...had nothing to say...think I need a trip to Toys R us as well!!!