“I had no childhood.” he told me. “I became a man without ever playing. I had to take care of the family as the eldest son.” It was a heart-breaking conversation listening to this older gentleman relate his life experiences to me.
“How can you make up for this now?” I asked him. It is sad because we can’t make up for the childhood we have lost.
“I wish to sit and watch Sesame Street.” he said.
“That is not hard to fix.” I said. “We can make this happen.”
We spoke about many of the things which he never did as a child like playing soccer with the other kids on the street or just hanging out until his mom called him in. Until this conversation, I never thought of what I missed as a child. I enjoyed most of my childhood and I am grateful that I was born at a time, in a country where ‘play’ was a great thing… not structured and within a safe environment. My favourite play memories were playing hide and seek on moonlight when all the neighbouring kids gathered and our parents sat outside chatting amongst themselves while we pranked each other under the shadows of the full moon. Many of us take play for granted but there are still many places around the world where children are put to work, sold into slavery and live in stricken poverty which denies them a safe and a beautiful, memorable childhood.
However, for those who did not have a good childhood, while you may not be able to go back and fix it, you could perhaps indulge in a few things which you may still be able to do – like watch the Sesame Street movies.
We are never too old to play. It is good for the soul.