“Time is a game played beautifully by children” – Heraclitus
Everything is just different when you’re a child. Time is endless. You have so much of it available to you that you run out of things to do and end up announcing on a regular basis, to anyone who will listen to you, how ‘bored’ you are.
I would love to be bored more often. Okay, that didn’t come out quite right. I am regularly bored by things like housework, the Data Protection Act, slow moving traffic on the A27 or anything that involves statistical analysis using Excel. What I actually mean is that I would like to have a bit more time on my hands so that I can be bored of my own volition. Take this blog entry for example. I wrote it in my head on Sunday in response to a daily prompt but frustratingly, it’s taken four days to convert it from thought to word.
Some of the delay was due to the fact that my mobile phone battery only lasts for about 43 and a half minutes if you actually want to use any of the phone functions. So, despite the fact that I have spent hours on trains for the past few days and could be using the time to write my blog using my phone, the only thing my phone has actually been good for, is making phone calls. Pricisely what I don’t want to do on a packed commuter train.
I remember everything being just a little bit more fun when I was a child. When my niece was old enough to be taken to the park, I got very excited about the idea of having the legitimate excuse of a small child to take into the play area.
It was oddly disappointing. The play equipment in the park is surprisingly challenging to use as a relatively unfit grown up.
Firstly, the swings. The swings were my favourite when I was a child. Flying through the air like a trapeze artist; okay a trapeze artist who just sits down on their trapeze, holding on firmly with both hands and slowing down if it swings too high, but a trapeze artist nevertheless. Feeling free, without a care in the world.
As an adult, there is no responsible grown up available to push you on the swings so you have to get your body moving yourself and it’s no mean feat to get 9 stone* shifting.
*I may possibly weigh a bit more if I’ve had a big meal. Or if I actually include my arms, legs and bottom in this figure.
Swinging is no longer free and easy. It’s an unexpected workout for the stomach with the added disadvantage of providing ones outer thighs with an embossed swing chain pattern caused by squeezing onto a seat designed for a seven year old.
The seesaw is equally challenging, particularly when your counterweight is a two year old weighing only slightly more than a bag of feathers. It takes every muscle in your thighs, which already have restricted blood supply owing to the swing chain indentation, to balance the seesaw and prevent the child hurtling towards the sky like a rogue cork from a bottle of fizzy wine. I don’t want to have to face my sister and tell her that I broke one of her children by accidently firing them from my seesaw catapult into a rapid moving roundabout.
The slide is next. What can possibly go wrong on a slide? Nothing. Well, nothing until you start moving and realise that the heavier you are, the faster you’ll go. The faster you go, the more difficult it is to stop and stopping will likely involve careering off the end of the slide and landing unceremoniously on your bottom on the ground just in front of the end of the slide. Even if the park was empty when you were at the top of the slide, by the time you have reached the end, half a dozen grubby looking teenagers will have appeared seemingly out of nowhere, in order to laugh at you.
The worst experience I had in a play park was on a day when I was looking after my niece. The park near her house has little wooden toadstool shaped things stuck in the ground for the children to balance on. We were standing on a toadstool each when my niece jumped down off of hers, came over to me and gave me a shove to try and topple me from my toadstool tower. I pretended to wobble and fall off. She laughed, got back on her toadstool and said “my turn”, so I went over to her and gave her a gentle little push
What I stupidly did not consider was that she was three years old and therefore she wasn’t tensing herself against me. She wasn’t expecting that I would actually push her. But I did.
She fell off. Then some teenagers appeared, just as my niece started to cry. As if it couldn’t get any worse, in between her heartbreaking sobs, you could hear this:
“Auntie…. Jelly…. Pushed…. Me….. Over…..”
I may as well have catapulted her into that roundabout.