Recreation.

I was recently going through some old photos from my childhood and found some pictures from various summers when I was in the late single-digits. I can vividly remember my childhood and can remember many of these photos being taken. Seeing smiling faces in the summertime back in the mid 1970s made me smile again.

One year, I think it was the summer of 1976, the school district offered a daily recreation program at the elementary school. Our family hadn’t moved into the house yet, we were still living in a 10×50 mobile home with an 8×45 addition containing a living room, master bedroom and a laundry room that had room for only the dryer (the washer was in the bathroom in the original trailer). It was a tight space for a family of four, but when the weather was good I would be outside running around, playing on an area called “the path”, which was a dirt path that went down through some maple trees and old grape and other berry vines along the pasture fence. The path was my favorite area to play, it was a road, it was a runway, it was whatever my imagination wanted it to be. And because of its location, my mom could look out the kitchen window and my grandmother could look out any of her back windows and see what I was up to.

However, Mom thought it would be better if my sister and I were away from the trailer and went to recreation at the school, so every morning we were whisked off to the elementary school to see kids that we went to school with. There was a structure to the recreational program, we did gym like stuff on the track and the playground, running and playing ball and whatnot. And then later we’d go inside to the music room (which was the old elementary gymnasium when the school housed all the grades in the district) and do arts and crafts and sing songs and the like.

Looking back on the experience, I can say that I was not amused. I didn’t need the structure, I was getting plenty of exercise playing in the path and jumping the pasture fences and the like and quite frankly I didn’t want to see the kids that I was going to school with when I wasn’t in school. I was a loner. I was quite happy and content with amusing myself without being told how to be amused. Arts and crafts were exceedingly boring to me, I could sing anytime I wanted to and I certainly didn’t want to be riding a school bus in July. But Mom insisted and off to recreation we went. I tolerated it by daydreaming about what I’d do when I got home.

Luckily, recreation didn’t take up the entire summer and by mid August I was back playing on the path and doing my own thing without having to worry about things I found pedestrian: throwing a ball, making popsicle stick trinkets, coloring inside the lines, etc.

It’s no wonder that I rebel at being told what to do.

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