Creating more Playborhoods

playInspired by this article of the Playborhood concept for kids and neighborhoods, I am reminded of my own experience when I was a kid, growing up in Clifton, NJ, a suburb of Manhattan.

After school was spent over my friends’ house, 3 brothers: Mike, Daniel and Jeremy.  Their parents, Mr. and Mrs. Lee had devoted themselves to their children and creating an environment both inside and outside their home where their children and their friends could learn, discover and play.  They were teachers by profession and their love of children was palpable.

In their backyard, Mr. Lee had build a wooden fort, with a ladder to climb u to the top and in the ‘basement’ of the fort was a sandbox.

I remember spending hours in that sandbox in the summer, using a colander to sift the sand to make it as fine a powder as I possibly could.  I was and am always fascinated with texture, nature and the earth.

The brothers would join me for awhile, but they were more interested in climbing up and on the fort, or playing on the swingset nearby.

In the humid heat of a NJ summer, their outdoor pool was also a soothing retreat.

But it wasn’t just their backyard that was a playground on my street, our street itself, St. James Place, also became our world to kick ball, pop tar bubbles in the summer heat or roller skate down.

There were no ‘scheduled’ playdates, they just happened, after school or on the weekend.  We were pretty much left to our own devices.  Our parents would call us in for meals and such and of course, when it got dark, we were expected to be home.

But we had freedom to discover ourselves through play.

In the cooler months, we retreated inside their home to the basement rec room.  There were legos, building blocks, Lincoln logs and in the back room, Mr. Lee had set up his model railroad.

There was also an Apple computer with very early ‘video games’.  There was a haunted house game we would play, but the computer wasn’t the sole focus of what we did.  And of course, these were different times.  We weren’t hooked in to the internet.

It was more fun to create our own worlds with the other toys that we could get our hands on.

I am really grateful for that experience.  I wonder, those reading this, did you have a Playborhood growing up?

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Play for peace

When there is tension, angst, unresolved emotions with kids and adults, here’s a simple cure to get the energy flowing in a positive direction:

  1.  Create a space where creative havoc can ensue, warning:  make sure you don’t care about things getting messy
  2. Stock with munchies like potato chips, goldfish and root beer
  3. Have lot’s of art supplies on hand:  paint, brushes, paper, canvas, etc.
  4. Start the process of painting, drawing and playing music
  5. Have no attachment to result
  6. Have musical instruments if possible (and having didjeridoos is a plus)
  7. Recorded fun music is also a good idea
  8. Old machines, like typewriters and adding machines might just add to the mayhem
  9. If you’ve got those old machines, make sure you have plenty of paper on hand
  10. Type a few words, some prose perhaps
  11. Then, tear up the paper and make ‘snowballs’
  12. Have a snowball fight while you are painting your heart out
  13. Laugh!
  14. And laugh loudly with abandon
  15. Be silly and be fearless in being silly
  16. Look like a fool and enjoy it
  17. Roll around, dance, and shake it out
  18. Feel how good that is
  19. Soak in the energy of release
  20. Enjoy the peace that follows

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