Whenever I post a photo to Instagram that displays a stone wall, I inevitably get a comment from someone outside of New England who appreciates our lovely and very abundant collection of them. I think they are gorgeous, but more than that, they bring back some great memories of good times when I was growing up. And they always remind me of my elementary school's playground.
When I was in elementary school, I usually used recess as a chance to get out all of the extra energy I had built up from sitting still and concentrating (for the most part) for so long. I loved flipping over the high bars and climbing on the other playground equipment. For some reason, we had a lot of tires everywhere for climbing and crawling. We even had this contraption made of tires strung on chains on which as many of us as could fit would climb while two others would jump on the chains and try to knock us all off. So fun, but maybe not so safe. For some reason, it's not there anymore.
Jump rope was always fun, too, especially the kind where two people would swing the rope, one would jump, and everyone would chant highly inappropriate rhyming rhythms. And there was always good old fashioned playing in the mud and somehow winding up in poison ivy (which I was, thankfully, somehow not allergic to, even though I'm allergic to the rest of the world).
Sometimes, though, I just wanted to enjoy my outdoor time quietly. I think this may have started after I sprained my ankle, or broke my arm, or broke any number of my fingers. I used to bring in little Cabbage Patch Kid figurines and could usually get one of my quieter friends to join me. We'd use the stone wall, which was falling apart in some places, as a little house for the figures. Some of the pieces of the wall even worked to make furniture for the house. We'd make up all kinds of stories and have a great time. I could have spent hours just playing in a stone wall with some little plastic dolls. Maybe it was therapeutic or something, I don't know, but it was my happy place.
Now this is the part where I lament that kids these days don't know how to have fun just using their own imaginations, right? Except, my son does. He will sit for hours making up stories with his Lego Duplos. (He calls the current series "Chicken Tornado." We're on episode 5.) In fact, he's making up stories and songs and engaging in imaginative play all the time, just like I did. He's taking pictures and videos (he has quite the "video selfie" collection right now) and drawing his "inventions." I love this stuff, too. Every once in a while, he takes a break to play Angry Birds or watch Disney Junior, but not for too long, and they usually end up giving him more ideas for his stories. It's been very cool watching him grow into this really interesting person with whom I have a lot in common, who is constantly reminding me of things I loved from my childhood.
My old elementary school is now closed, recently sold to someone who is going to make it into condos, or a hotel, or something like that. It makes me sad, because it was such a good school. Joshua just started Kindergarten at a newer school in that district a couple of weeks ago. Tonight, he brought home a book from the school library and I noticed something familiar inside the cover: it was a stamp from my old school's library. My heart was warmed. I can't wait to see all the good times he will have at his school, and all the wonderful memories he'll make. Especially at recess.