Remembering Childhood Joy
What did you do as a child that made the hours pass like minutes? This is Lynne Dorfman's opening in today's post and the inspiration for mine.
When I was a child and play was my job, Shady Lane was teeming with children of all shapes and sizes, interests and ages. There was always someone to play with. The McLaughlin girls across the street were the main companions for me, my two sisters and my little brother. If they weren't available, I'd hop on my electric blue bike with the white glittery banana seat and ring another doorbell. I was rarely bored because there was always someone to play house, ride bikes, build forts in the woods, roller skate, dig in the dirt and make mud pies. Pure childhood joy.
My best and favorite companion, though, was my brother John. He was a year and a half younger than me, energetic and imaginative. Our backyard was our amusement park with its tall oak trees, a mound of sand (I'm not sure why it was there, but it sat in the corner of the yard for quite a few years), and a fence to climb over that led us to a field of trees and shrubs from a landscape nursery.
John loved hauling his blue matchbox car case out to the yard that garaged at least one hundred miniature cars in the light blue baskets that organized his treasured collection of hot rods, trucks, and service vehicles, all replicated from real life size vehicles down to the tiniest headlights and detailing. The sand mound became a plot of land and we became the developers.
With his miniature bulldozer and our hands, we carved roads in the hill of sand and leveled areas where our houses would be placed. Fallen branches from the trees in the yard and dandelions were carefully placed in the sand mound to give shade to the newly constructed neighborhoods and parks. We used the backyard garden hose and filled the pools and ponds we created by burying cups and bowls to the brim that we borrowed from our kitchen cabinets, and we landscaped with rocks and popsicle sticks. Ants would often invade the towns, making us giggle, and a strategically placed caterpillar became a threat to the well-being of all the citizens.
Anything and everything around us was our inspiration, our tools, our building materials. The only care we had was for the towns we built. The excavating could go on for days if the rain didn't wash our roads away, and when the towns were finally ready, we'd drive and park the Matchbox cars on the roads and park them at the Lego houses. We gave voices to the families and argued over who was going to get to drive the ambulance to pick up one of our characters from their house to the hospital.
As we played, the sun moved from directly overhead to just behind the McLaughlin's house across the street without us ever noticing. We didn't know what time it was as we felt our bellies churn with hunger pains from missing lunch. We didn't care. We were happy and life was good.
Dedicated to John
August 28, 1964 - October 10, 1988