Sliding Down Ditches on Carboard Boxes

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The Story

When I was growing up, most things were simple — even our playtime. We could make fun of almost anything. The wooded areas provided the perfect backdrop for a Tarzan movie reenactment. We would climb the trees, chase away the bad guys (a couple of our cousins and friends), save whoever was in distress, then beat our chests with our fists. Finally, we would bellow, “Uh-, uh, uh, uh, uh-, uh, uh, uh,” Tarzan’s infamous war cry.

Colorful wire left next to tall telephone poles provided materials to make designer headdresses, necklaces, fashionable rings, and bracelets. We would make hippie-like adornments out of flowers and clovers in the yard. We would “feast” on mudpies made from the rich red soil that paved the roads in front of our homes. We would also suck the tiny drops of nectar from honeysuckles, cook wild greens, and make juice from wild berries. Big refrigerator boxes from the local hardware store gave us materials to build forts and tents. Sometimes we would leave the box intact, crawl inside it, and roll around in the plush grass. We would play for hours on end, using just our imaginations and recycled goods. I especially liked sliding down big ditches on our cutout pieces of cardboard.

These simple experiences gave us the opportunity to bond with each other in ways I do not believe children connect with each other today. We were literally forced outside so we could play and expend bottled-up energy. As we played, sometimes conflict arose. We had to problem-solve and work things out amongst ourselves. We did not run back and forth telling the adults about our childish woes. First of all, we were locked out the house and could not go back inside until they allowed us to do so. Secondly, our caregivers knew that the heated moment would pass, no longer to be considered an imminent threat, so there was no reason for them to intervene on our behalf. Therefore, as we played and enjoyed one another’s company, we also learned life skills that are now called “conflict resolution strategies.” We also learned that whatever was wrong at any given moment would eventually subside, as in those moments, we knew it was just time to play.

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