I wonder how many children today will grow up and remember playing make believe?
When I was a child we lived in a safe, suburban neighborhood with lots of children. The road we lived on connected to another road, which connected to another, and so on down the line. This created a large area that we were gradually allowed to explore as our age and parents deemed fit. For a few years we were not permitted to venture beyond the length of our own road and the road behind our house. However, as we grew more responsible and got to know more kids, we were allowed to expand our territory. But until that time my older sister and I were the only girls in our age group on our street.
Being girls, my sister and I were usually the last kids picked to fill out the ranks for a rousing game of Army or Cowboys and Indians. I was a plucky tomboy who often made up for my offending gender by being a fast runner and a great tree climber who never hesitated to shoot to kill with my imaginary weapon. But my older sister was a girlie-girl and her only claim to fame was being pretty. She was almost always the first member of her team to be captured, then proceeded to play the damsel in distress to the hilt. I’d get annoyed watching the boys fawn over my sister and gallantly offer to find her a safe place to hide and vow to protect her. In my opinion she didn’t deserve their protection …. she didn’t contribute a darn thing! Meanwhile, I was out there fighting fights, winning battles and taking prisoners!
I’m sure many parents today don’t encourage their kids to go outside and play imaginary war games. Instead, they let their kids play them on an electronic device, then say that’s OK because it’s “different.” But I don’t have to have children to know what’s different about playing make believe with real, face-to-face friends. It teaches kids how to negotiate, build and work as teams, resolve their own conflicts, make fair rules, choose leaders, follow directions and create group spirit.
When you were a child what make believe games did you play?