Children Playing

Yesterday afternoon Vecino Jr., Neuvo Vecino Jr. and a few of their buddies were running around the calle playing some sort of version of hide and seek.  Vecino Jr. speaks español like a native as do two of the other buddies it looked like in total there were about six boys running around like banshees.  The one who was “It” had to wear a t-shirt on his head as did the “Guard”.  These boys are all between the ages of 10 and 13 and I have a feeling that the rules kept changing and needed clarification occasionally judging by all the shouting going on.

I can’t honestly say that we heard children playing outside in our neighborhood in Edmonton; much less running around in barefoot and shirtless through the streets and fields.  It seems like today kids just sit in front of the television or computer for their entertainment.

Our kids were born in a time before computers and video games were readily available.  We moved to a small town in Ontario when I was pregnant with Daughter #2 and our son was also born there.  I can remember the first month that we were there it was a beautiful Indian Summer and I would take Daughter #1 across the street to play in the woods.  There was a river nearby and there were sand dunes just outside the tree line.  It was a good way for us to while away the last days of fall and I’d take her sand toys over and we’d sit on the ground playing.

When our other two children came along we still spent a lot of time outside.  Daughter #1 was enrolled in nursery school and I would pack everyone up, Daughter #2 in the sled or the carriage depending on the time of year and our son in the Snugglie on my front and off we would go twice a week come rain or shine.  We also had some concrete out back and several children in the neighborhood for them to run around with.  By the time our son was old enough to walk though we’d be out in the fenced front yard more often than not.  People would ask me how I stayed so skinny.  It was from chasing after him so much!

By the time we moved back to Calgary they were all big enough to have bicycles.  We were fortunate to have a house that had a long path in back of it and they would peddle their little legs back and forth and we could watch from the back step.  Because we lived in military housing there were always other kids for them to play with.  We also had a fenced in yard and had a sand box my dad had built for them and a swing set that the neighborhood would come and play on.  My dad even built a little play house for them at Grandma’s and Grandpa’s so the kids would have something to play on when we visited.

When they were old enough our children were allowed to choose one activity that they wanted to take part in.   Whether it was gymnastics, swimming, hockey or figure skating if they started a sport they had to stick with it until the session ended even if they weren’t sure if they liked it or not.  I’d like to think that by doing that it instilled in them a sense of making sure that they completed something and not dropping it mid-stream.  And maybe they also learned that even if you’re not very good at something you can still have fun.  We still joke about our son doing loop-de-loops in front of the net while the game was taking place on the other side of the rink, or playing in the dirt while everyone was chasing the soccer ball; proof positive that not everyone is cut out for team sports.

We moved twice more, again to the woods of Ontario and then to Edmonton.  It wasn’t until we moved to Edmonton that we noticed that the children in the neighborhood were younger than our kids.  It was a smaller base, we were there before it became a mega base, and it seemed that a few families chose not to live in military housing.  There was still the sound of children playing but they were smaller.  It became time for us to make a move into a house of our own.

We bought our house based on the schools and how easy it would be for the kids to get to them.  We didn’t want a new house; we wanted something with room enough for the kids to have their own space.  We moved into a neighborhood with a few older people in it, some are still in their homes to this day even though they are in their 80’s and 90’s.  One thing that changed was that we lost the community feel of living on a military base.  The few children that lived in the neighborhood didn’t do too much running around and playing other than at the playgrounds in the school yards.  Our children were at the age where “hanging out” at someone’s house was more the norm, it was a natural evolution.  And yes, computers were starting to be more fun than hide-and-seek.

Today in Norte America it seems that fear and technology have taken over children’s play time.  Physical Education programs are cut back in the school systems, recess in some schools is only once a day if that, and not every family can afford the extracurricular activities needed to make up for the inactivity.  Parents drive children to scheduled “Play Dates”, children rarely run around their neighborhoods anymore, and obesity in children has never been higher.  So it was a joyful noise that we listened to outside our windows, even with the bickering.  It was the good old-fashioned sound of children playing.


If you’re a parent, what are your favorite memories of your children playing?  Leave me a comment!


About indacampo

You'll find me at blogging about Panama...and other things.
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2 Responses to Children Playing

  1. kristc99 says:

    Yes, it’s different here. Kids run around and play, and parents don’t hover like we are scared into doing in the US. My kids? We were lucky when they were young. There were other families within a couple blocks with similar age kids. The parents were all friends and any of the houses were home to any of the kids.

    • indacampo says:

      Yes, our kids were fortunate I think. There is too much fear everywhere now and the children don’t get outside their backyard much anymore.


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