I saw this photo on Facebook yesterday and it really got me thinking….well remembering really.
My childhood was full of days like this. Please don’t mis-understand me, my brother and I were not neglected! We were however, encouraged to take part in activities that encouraged our imagination.
Our mum (sadly passed away in 2001) was a bit of a hippy at heart. Alongside a love of kaftans, home made bread, herbal tisanes made from our herb garden and making the majority of our clothes herself, our house was always ever so slightly chaotic. Although the front garden had flower borders and the standard issue square of grass, the back garden sported no neat, landscaping. On the other hand, our dressing up box was full to the brim, we were allowed to experiment with paint and playdough (possibly even at the same time) and the possibilities for making mud pies and rose petal perfume were endless. I always remember my mum saying “I don’t care what the garden looks like and if the neighbours want to send their kids over to dig and make mud pies that’s fine with me. At least we all know they are safe and happy.”
This has stayed with me.
As we grew older and started to venture out of the garden to the surrounding streets and fields we still maintained a sense of freedom. From the age of about 10 or so, my good friend Nina and I took our little brothers under our wing and became the Famous Five minus the dog. Either on foot or on our bikes, we made dens along the nearby embankment, made sliding paths down the long grass with the aid of a plastic bag and cushion, climbed trees, fell over, bumped heads, invented games, learnt to skate down the hills, went walking, got stung by nettles then cured by Dock leaves and formed secret clubs. I distinctly remember we collected badges and looked at these treasures in a quiet corner of the garage. We were, of course known as the Garage Gang!
These were happy days and it never seemed to rain. I don’t remember taking lunch with us and I don’t remember if we broke up the day with a lunch break. I suspect we picked blackberries, blackcurrants and other delicious things that were growing profusely along our way. I do know that we arrived home starving hungry, filthy dirty and extremely content. My mum was always very encouraging of these activities and never worried about grazed knees or ripped clothes. These could be wiped or mended accordingly.
And the best thing of all….no beeping, flashing, gizmos or gadgets. We actually talked to each other, resolved differences and communicated. I just wish all children could have the same experience I had.
So if you have a corner of the garden you don’t know what to do with can I suggest you leave it wild. Encourage mud pies, mud kitchens and dens and then walk away. The kids will take care of it from there….
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