“Go and play!” my mother used to say. These are words burnt into my brain, from the sort of childhood that will never come again.
“Go and play!” We headed to the vegetable patch in our sprawling, suburban backyard. Mud pies, we played. Little girls in homemade flouncy dresses, covered in mud pie making. Boy, was there trouble, we fled on the double! But the good times stayed. It was a wonder we didn’t get worms as well. All washed down with a drink as we shared the trickle from the garden hose.
“Go and play!” We had skipping ropes, elastics, and bits of chalk. We drew hopscotch on the driveway or footpath and could amuse ourselves. My elder sister had a chalkboard, known as a blackboard. She promptly made me play ‘school’, and taught me how to read. C-A-T said cat. This was as she dressed our cat in baby clothes and forced it to sit in the dolls’ pram, full of simple dolls and toys.
“Go and play!” In rainy weather, we played indoor games. The family favourite, Snakes and Ladders. This game taught us how to get ahead, in endless sibling rivalry. It also taught us that life sucks when you slid down the big snake on 99.
“Go and play!” included Monopoly. The ultimate in family back stabbing. You just know your older sister is going to dabble successfully in real estate when she grows up. Yes, the eldest sibling is always the banker, buys the best property, and wipes the family off the board. Then there was the drama of Scrabble.
“Go and play!” We always had a deck of cards. Sitting by the tiny briquette heater, while the rest of the house was freezing, but we were used to that. Gin Rummy, Poker, Patience, Snap. We could always find a game to play.
Today in the 21st century, hi-tech savvy kids still enjoy playing our olden games, boards and card games. It is all a bit of fun, which grandparents can share to bridge across the generations. Do the parents still say, “Go and play?” Or are we reminiscing on times that are now regarded as politically incorrect? Kids still love toys, such as dolls and fluffy teddy bears and bunnies, but they are growing up in a digital age. We golden oldies are trying to understand their hi-tech savvy world of internet games.
“Go and play!’ That was what we did. Our favourite games we all played.