Tag Archives: playing


Dash was supposed to have a baseball game yesterday, so he did his homework as soon as he got home from school, for once. Then the game was cancelled because there was so much rain last night that the field was unplayable, and there were thunderstorms forecast for this evening anyway, but there was his homework, done, and the whole evening still ahead of him.

Apart from a brief torrential shower, the storms had yet to show up, and all the kids were outside playing after dinner. Dash came rushing in after a little while declaring “I need to be Harry Potter” and put on a shirt and his Hogwarts cloak and made me tie his HP tie. (Fabulous Christmas present from loving auntie.) Then he legged it back downstairs and out again. I looked out to find five or six children on my lawn all brandishing sticks at each other and – this is vital – not hitting each other with them but waving them and yelling things like “Wingardium Leviosa!” and “Expelliarmus!”

I am really grateful to JK Rowling for writing those books, because she’s created a world that keeps children engaged in reading and in imaginary play, and that’s a wonderful thing. It’s a gift to childhood.


This year’s baseball games are on the real field that has the snack shop and the scoreboard and a playground right beside it. On Saturday after a long time swinging and climbing by herself, Mabel felt emboldened enough to join in with a conversation and a game – or maybe she started it, I don’t know. The first I heard was when she popped up beside me with a dandelion as a gift from “the Kingdom” and invited me to come on a tour. I went to see the Kingdom, where I met the Town Crier and the King and Queen and where Mabel was known as the Architect. Their society was quite advanced, apparently. About seven children from the ages of three to ten, by the looks of it, were embroiled in the politics of the Kingdom, and how it should be run. It was a delight.

I went back to the bleachers and watched the baseball game, because though I could visit, the Kingdom was not mine to play in.

If the adults can just leave them alone; if they are away from their screens for long enough; if they have inspiration from stories that catch their imaginations; if they have nothing but sticks and mulch (and maybe a cloak) – the magic will come.

And that’s what they’ll remember and it will be their childhoods and we are doing the right thing.

Dash as Harry Potter

Every inch a Gryffindor

This is basically just an excuse for some photos

I’m grateful for the lack of polar vortices we’ve had to endure so far this winter, I have to say. Yesterday’s snow disappeared in just about the time I like, which was pretty much overnight. By this afternoon at home time the same playground where I took all the photos yesterday looked like this:

Mabel on a swing; no snow.

The first winter I spent in the US, in Pennsylvania, we didn’t see the ground under the snow from mid-December to March. I can’t imagine that now. It was all so monochrome. Not to mention chilly.

Mabel is wandering around with many small stuffed animals in her baby Ergo, and has set up all the other animals on the sofa wearing as many backpacks as she can find. (Not all the other animals. We don’t have enough sofas for all the animals, let alone backpacks.)

Mabel on the hopper ball thing

I think the best Christmas present of the lot was this one, the $15 Loloball, or whatever they’re called these days. (I got one for Christmas in about 1980. Mine was blue and yellow.) It ostensibly belongs to Mabel, for complicated reasons of Santa-fairness, but Dash has really taken to it. They have negotiated that whenever he wants to use it he has to ask “Da?” and she replies “Da” or “Nyet” or “Nyet nyet” because apparently in Russian two negatives make a positive.

This is because they got a Russian teacher at the school this year and everyone gets a Russian lesson once a week or once a month or something. The teacher hands out photocopied roubles for good behaviour and they come home chanting some very Communist-sounding song about Ruskova. It’s hilarious. I have no idea whether they’re learning anything beyond da and nyet, but who cares? My kids are learning Russian, take that Montgomery County boo yah.

Anyway, he bounces and counts to see how high up he can get, and it’s something energetic he can do indoors without breaking things, so I call it a win.

Meanwhile, his sister continues to amass toys upon toys and play with them all and then eschew them in order to cut out paper dolls instead. She’s also perusing the Playmobil booklet at every turn to decide what she’ll buy with her star-chart earnings, and earmarking Li’l Woodzeez families for her next birthday. Or maybe that should be the other way round, for the sake of my finances.

paper dolls sitting up in bed