Thursday, January 26, 2017

Play is the Work of Childhood

Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. 
Play is really the work of childhood.
- Fred Rogers

There were 6 of us children ranging across 16 years when I was growing up on the farm. My brother, LeAdam is the youngest. I was nearly 12 when he was born. In a lot of ways, I watched him grow up rather than growing up with him.

My sister and I were in junior high and high school when Le was playing hard in the backyard. He had his trucks and tractors and spent many hours "bringing in the crops". This was a common event because he just followed suit for what dad and the older siblings did so often.

I didn't really think much about what children play until one day when Kandy came home with a funny story. She had a friend that lived in town. This friend also happened to have a small brother. On this particular day, Kandy was in town and saw little Danny playing in the dirt. She asked him, "What are you doing today?"

Expecting something like "Baling hay!" she was a little surprised to hear him say matter-of-factly, " .. putting in sewer lines." It had never really crossed our minds that a town kid would play differently than the farm kid. It's the whole "Like Father, Like son" idiom.

Now I wasn't one to play with trucks and tractors, I was more of a mommy type. I can remember dressing the cat and pushing it around in my baby buggy. I'm not sure why the cat put up with that!

I loved the animals too. Especially the young stock. We had a small fenced-in pasture for the calves just off the backyard. There was a fallen tree that created for us a small cove that we used as a show ring.

Our family participated in several cattle shows every summer. We selected the best two or three cows, cleaned them up, trained them to be on a halter, and took them to shows. Alex and I, along with our friends, would have our own little cattle shows back in the cove. We spruced up the calves and paraded them around in a circle while one of us did the judging.

Mr. Fred Rogers was evidently right. Our play was a serious learning time. We all ended up doing well at the county fair and other cattle shows around the state. I even won a 4-H cattle judging competition once!

This post was  inspired by a writing prompt in "Reflections from a Mother's Heart". The prompt was "What was your favorite pastime as a child? Did you prefer to do it alone or with someone else."

Photos from Columbia County Fair in Portage, WI 1976

Doug & Kandy

Alex ~ 1st in showmanship
Me with my cow, Marietta

What was your favorite pastime growing up?