Growing up I grew up in a very old-school neighborhood. The majority of families who lived within my half-block had children that were either my age or my sister’s age. We grew up going to the same schools, playing at the same park together, and playing in each other’s backyards and homes. The best part of the neighborhood was the fact that there was a park full of swings, giant slides (now gone), sandboxes, and much more just two blocks from my home.
I think that one of my first memories of play is playing on this inner tube bounce jungle gym in my preschool. (I included a picture of a structure just like the one I played on). This was the only piece of equipment to play on whenever we had indoor recess due to weather so it was a very popular spot. I remember how fun it was to try and jump as high as possible. I remember feeling so goofy jumping around on an old inflatable inner tube but it was awesome to be able to move around that much during indoor recess.
Most of my other childhood memories of play include playing with the other kids in my neighborhood. Since we all went to the same school until high school we continued a routine of dropping our book bags off in our homes as soon as we got home and then meeting at somebody’s backyard to play outside until we were called home for dinner. When we were really young playing outside normally just meant to sticking to just one backyard and so we would usually choose the house with the best playscape. We would play for hours on the swings and slides. I really enjoyed trying to run up the slides and for awhile our favorite activity was trying to see who could “shoot” their shoe the farthest off their foot while swinging on swings. Our parents would be just inside the house preparing dinner while we were safely playing just outside. When the children in my neighborhood were very young, our parents would take us to the park and we would play on the giant playscape, swing on the swings, and on the slide that seemed dangerously tall when I was much younger. Being able to play outside without parents watching over us made us feel very grown up even though our parents were just inside. We were able to play without our parents telling us that something was too dangerous every two seconds. Sure, we all got our fair share of scrapes and bruises but we learned.