Children do not play like we used to. Sadly, it is a pretty dangerous world out there and even your front yard is not safe.
New York is trying to ban some childhood games; Tag, Dodge ball, Red Rover, etc.
What!!! Tag promotes running and competition. Dodge ball and Red Rover are character building games. Why? Because they help a child make choices, accept adversity and find out who their friends truly are.
It is true that sometimes a child or two might get too carried away and use more force than is necessary. Many things can be discerned from children and their thoughts by how they play with others. Some of this can raise a red-flag for a parent to nip an attitude in the bud before it grows into a major problem.
We played hide and seek in the dark; Red-Light Green Light, Mother May I or Simon says. This helped our motor skills and listening skills not to mentioned increasing our heart rate if you were discovered in the dark!
It is true that children on the school playgrounds have their own hierarchy with games. They can be very selective as to who they want on their teams and the rules that they want to impose. It prepares children for adult life filled with expectations and disappointments.
We didn't have a lot of fancy things to play with at our house but there was always something to keep us amused. My brothers were pretty inventive on horses and playing Cowboys and Indians. The Indians didn't have the horses, they were the ones running to find cover in the sagebrush! We slid down the hill at the back of our house on old pieces of metal. None of us got cut or broke any bones, but our clothes got pretty dirty and made my mom mad.
I don't know one friend of mine that didn't make a mud pie or two. A few of them would eat them too. We used an old washing machine agitator wheel to spin us around, now you can buy the plastic version for $20.00 or more.
My sister Bev and I had a different playhouse every summer. We used an old shed for a while, and a couple horse pens and our best playhouse was a horse-shoe shaped group of sagebrush.
Indoor play included tea parties, dress-up and playing house. Boys had marbles, cars and trucks and building materials. The TV was rarely on
Today, Playtime is carefully scheduled and controlled with T-Ball; Soccer, Softball, Volleyball, Football, Gymnastics, and Dance Lessons. It is rare that children are encouraged to be spontaneous in their playtime.
Most of us who grew up the country and small towns were granted a certain freedom that most city kids have never experience.
Protective services was not called when children were running loose and unsupervised. Our mothers had a secret union with spies on every corner or authority figures who had permission to spank a child who misbehaved. Special equipment granted to a mom was an extra set of eyes affixed to the back of their heads!!
Your misdeeds were not caught on tape but reported dutifully by another mother via the party-line on the telephone. There wasn't a fear that someone would kidnap or injure a child back then because everyone watched out for each other.
There will never be an electronic or battery-operated game or toy that can equal playing hide and seek or tag. Role-playing games pale in comparison to a tea party and dressing up or playing house. Being in a marble tournament yields far more pleasure and rewards than a score-based TV or computer game.
Is the world too far gone to have those free times back? Probably not. Do not despair though!!! Simply dust off your board games or get out the old badminton or croquet set. If you live on a farm, the stock tank makes a great swimming pool. If you live in the city, a water sprinkler is just as fun.
We can still play albeit more carefully. You still need a union of mothers or responsible adults And having a set of eyes on the back of your head wouldn't hurt either.
As for me, I plan on a tea party or two with my granddaughter or a game of chase with my grandsons. Life should be enjoyed by treasuring the simple things and spending time with your loved ones.