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What was your favorite plaything as a child? Do you see any connection between your life now, and your favorite childhood toy?

When I was a kid, my friends and I split our summer time between swimming and playing games. We’d play games for hours in the hot summer afternoons usually in Susan’s breezeway, between the house and the garage. Breezeways are now a thing of the past I fear. We played cards of all sorts, Monopoly, Parcheesi — and others I can’t remember. Sometime we’d argue, but the next day we had forgotten our disagreement and were back to the same routine.

I can remember staying in the pool so long the my skin would get crinkly, and I can’t think all that outside time in the sun did anything for the spots that now decorate my skin. I even had to have one “pre-cancerous” mole removed from my shoulder a couple of years ago. Nothing to fear, I think. Hopefully just an anamoly.

My husband has too and what’s amusing is that he’s a Brit, and of the type who loves the sun. He’s always out working in the daytime sun, shirt off, short shorts and bare feet (something it took him a long while to accept). Sometimes he wears sun screen but more often not. I just tend to stick to shady areas. Aside from cancer, I’d rather not have any more “liver” spots on my skin. Ugly. And I listen to the doctor better than he does. Isn’t that usually the way with men?

We also worked on our tans in the summer using baby oil or dark tanning oil to get as brown as we possibly could. Brown skin is healthy skin, or is it?

On not so hot days, we’d ride out bikes around, or follow the creek bed that ran through our neighborhood. (Interstate-4 now has covered the beloved creek with a culvert!). But we were pretty free spirits and got together with neighbor children when we wanted to play dodgeball or kickball until it got too dark. I remember chasing and catching lightening bugs. many more than we see now. Great summers ending in boredom and an actual desire to return to school.

We were kind of left to our own devices, and I think that contributes to more creative imagination than always being programmed the way a lot of kids are these days, some out of necessity.

As educators say, “play is the work of children”. (I think Maria Montessori said it.) And kids do learn a lot from that social interaction, bargaining, acquiescing, and agruing sometimes.

I still like playing board, computer games and doing personal puzzles (like Sudoku) and I suspect that stems from my childhood. We play occasionally, and a few we play now are great for eliciting laughter, like Catch Phrase, or Pictionary, or Brain Quest, also good ways to release tension. If you like words, want a faster game than Scrabble, try Bananagrams!