I have decided to add some posts to my blog that are of the philosophical kind. To date, I have not been particularly inclined to do so but lately my heart has persuaded me that there are some thoughts and observations I simply want to remember. One, is the pathology of my Playroom, which I do understand and finally admitted to Grandpa just the other day.
“You know”, I said to him, “I think that I tenderly care for the playroom for myself,
rather than entirely for our grandchildren.”
I think he resisted saying something like “no kidding” but instead
he smiled because he already knew that.
Why, within two days, two granddaughters came to visit and spent their time in The Playroom.
Each played with the same thrifted treasures, dressed up in different clothes from second-hand stores
and reluctantly said goodbye when the time came,
often with little treasures in Ziploc bags
which they ran to get in a kitchen drawer.
I think it means something when your grandchildren know where you keep the Ziploc bags.
My only regret, and Grandpa’s greatest safety, is that the room is limited in size. I have never regretted painting it a soft and bright yellow and have gratefully filled the furniture Grandpa built for it with dolls and animals, building toys and books. I do not have the wall space for all of pictures of childhood which I would love to display but I have room for many and they stir my heart and I have watched the children stop and look at them, especially the Maxfield Parish painting of George and the Dragon.
When Oli visited this week, I told her that she was old enough now and that she didn’t need to get any older until I had had my fill of her five-year-old self. I hugged her mother, who sat next to me on a child-sized chair at the child-sized table and told her that it was such a sad thing when she grew up and I could barely bare to watch it happen again.
Very soon mommy Melissa she will understand.
To a treasure, my playroom is second-hand and there is the magic.
When the children come, they go there first to see what might be new. They immediately know.
They also know if anything is missing.
These two little cousins, Maya and Olive, generally like the same things and I get better and better at finding things I know they will love. Without the magic of second-hand stores, the playroom would be quite bare. New things cost too much and provide little of the eclectic warmth and uniqueness that I love so much and that is so attractive to children.
So. What is the pathology of The Playroom?
Most likely it is the magic of childhood revisited. It is the pleasure of simple things collected at small expense. It is the economy of a small yet organized space where fantasy is king, or in this case, queen.
Yes. I know. It is having what one didn’t have as a child and creating what one thinks she would have loved to have had it been possible. Here’s the rub: when I was a child, people didn’t have all of these things in the first place and most importantly didn’t have all of these things to discard.
People didn’t discard.
When Olive found this pink furry thing in the dress-ups, she put it on and left with it when it was time to go to school. When I found it, it was brand new, with the tag still hanging on the neck. Who knows why the little wooden necklace was discarded but it was and I am glad. In a world where mix-and match and eclectic style is no longer a shock to the eye, outfitting a playroom from thrift stores is a delight in many, many ways.
I walk past the playroom many times a day. I often glance in with a look of longing. Sometimes I am even tempted to sit at the table under the window and read my book. But,when the room is quiet it isn’t as alluring. I love it the most when it is full of children, full of sounds, full of appreciative ooohs and ahhhhs and a frequent call for me to look at something as if I didn’t already know what was in my own playroom. I am frequently exclaiming “Wow. What did you find?”
It is a very fun game.
In a playroom, you quickly learn who is the left-hander and who loves bracelets. You find out who will dress-up and care for the dolls and who would rather play with the dinosaurs. You learn who needs a tray to dump out Legos before they are all over the floor and who is going to dump out the Matchbox car collection on the floor which takes forever to clean up. Some little boys can cover the whole floor, searching through and sorting the cars. Only last week I bought a big bag of Matchbox cars at DI for $5.00. It contained over 100 cars.
You learn to sit and stare at art on the walls; renderings of children with adults at the park, on a merry-go-round, reading a book. You learn to watch children with joy and to ignore the clock. There are lessons to be learned in a playroom.
I have put away the toddler toys since in a blink of an eye, the toddlers are grown and added things that older children find interesting. I have given the board-books to the nursery at the church and to my friend whose daughter just had twins. In their place are I Spy books and books about animals and how to build things. There are superheroes and Lincoln Logs, Pass-the-Pig and Perfection. There are books and paper for cutting airplanes, glue sticks, tape and there are doll clothes in baskets, which are really tiny newborn baby clothes which came from the same thrift stores as everything else.
There are lots of fancy, discarded dancing dresses from past recitals and furry vests, lots of jewelry and little purses. There are metal airplanes and jungles of plastic animals. There is one box filled with nothing but horses. We all know about girls and horses.
Just when Grandpa thinks the room might eat me alive, I pack a bag and send it back to the second-hand-store where it came from.
It is a wonderful thing indeed to love your life, your family and your home.
I love my playroom and for many, many reasons, pathological as it may be.
If you have to lock me up . . . make sure it is in The Playroom.