I don’t recall feeling bored one minute as a child. If it happened I was probably at the doctor or dentist or some other very unfun for a kid place. Even then there was usually a Highlights magazine nearby to remedy the situation.
When I was a kid the phrase “play date” did not exist. We simply walked next door or down the street to occupy the neighbor’s backyard for awhile. Lay the burden of injury on another set of parents for the afternoon.
Sometimes we were driven. Usually by my mother.
When I was about 7 or 8 I spent a “not a play date” with my friend Duncan. This was particularly exciting because Duncan had a Slip and Slide.
We did not.
I was promised a banana sandwich post slipping and sliding and that was something I looked forward to all morning long.
While slipping and sliding.
At my house a banana sandwich was 2 slices of white bread, possibly toasted. Or not. Half a banana, on top of peanut butter. Crunchy is best. Yes please.
This makes perfect sense. Because it makes a perfect sandwich.
I quickly learned that afternoon that people do things differently in other kitchens. When it comes to banana sandwiches. Some people have very bad ideas.
Duncan and his mother apparently liked to insult a good banana by subjecting it to– of all things–Mayonnaise.
What did you just say?
I did not eat mayonnaise. At all. Ever.
Unless carefully disguise in a salad. Tuna or potato.
This dislike was acknowledged in my family to the extent that my brother once chased me through the house with an open jar. He must have thought it was great fun mayonnaise terrified me. I did not.
Duncan and his mother had no idea.
Most of that lunch is now a blur of polite disappointment. With a side of potato chips. At least.
When I was a kid
We played inside.
When it was too hot, too cold, too rainy.
Candy Land, Slap Jack, Go Fish, Barbies, makeup Barbie, Holly Hobbie, Chinese checkers, regular checkers, Lincoln Logs, jacks and marbles. Our stuffed animals had names and personalities. They had voices and did people things.
My sister and I played school. We had books labeled Discard.
Science and Math.
I remember trying to write down every word I knew on a sheet of paper.
I thought coloring books were kind of like cheating. And forget the paint by number.
When we were all old enough to read my parents bought a set of Childcraft books. The 60’s or early 70’s edition. Each book was grey except for the spine. Each title had a different color. When you looked at them from the side they made a rainbow. They had titles like About Me, Look Again, What People Do, How Things Work.
World and Space was pink. I might have looked at that one couple of times. I spent most of my time with #9 Make and Do. It was green.
Lime green and gold and orange color scheme saturation. Instructions on how to make and do lots of things. Happy make and do illustrations and strange photographs of children with the finished products.
Shadow puppets, stick puppets, party hats, how to give a party, how to paint with a toothbrush, clay jewelry, paper airplanes. How to sew an apron? I feel sure potato printing was mentioned. Soap carving. I believe there was a section on how to make a sandwich.
My sister and I spent hours with Make and Do.
Our finished products never quite matched the book.
My brother had a game called Good Guys and Bad Guys. Cowboys. On horses. Good cowboys and bad cowboys. Whoever designed that game got paid a lot for doing very little.
You followed a path of horseshoes. There were illustrations on the game board of cowboys shooting each other. I’m not sure how you won. My brother probably always won. I think he was always the good guy.
My very favorite doll set was The Sunshine Family.
The Sunshine Family was a cleaned up hippie couple with a baby that would always be a baby. The father wore a turtleneck sweater and boots. The mother was blonde with a flower print dress. She wore sandals.
I imagined she liked to cook. Pies and casseroles.
They probably had a garden.
You had to construct their house and furniture out of recycled things. A kleenex box was their bed. Plastic aerosol lids were tables. A spool of thread was a nightstand. It came with a booklet of ideas.
The original low impact family. Concerned about the environment.
They were always happy.
The Sunshine Family did not mingle with my Barbie or my sister’s Barbie. Or my brother’s GI Joe. And definitely not Stretch Armstrong.
Holly Hobbie was the closest thing they had to a neighbor.
They were happy in their shoebox house.
In the middle of the gold shag carpet.
In the corner of the living room.
On their own.