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My only grandchild lives 1500 miles away. He is six years old. My husband and I went to visit him last month – this is how it went:

ME: May I speak to Andre?

PERSON ON THE OTHER END: Is he expecting your call?

ME: No.

PERSON ON THE OTHER END: Whom shall I say is calling?

ME: Grandma.

~Pause~

PERSON ON THE OTHER END: He’s in a meeting at the moment, would you like to leave a voicemail?

ME: How long do you think he will be? Can I just hold?

~Pause~

ANDRE: Sorry about that Grandma. I thought you were my agent. I had my assistant screen my calls. What can I do for you?

ME: We are in town for just one day and I was hoping to get to see you.

ANDRE: Let me check my calendar. Ah – yes, I think I can squeeze you in between football and piano lessons. How’s noonish sound?

OK – I’ll admit, I may be exaggerating just a teensy bit. And I do appreciate his mother for keeping him in positive activities and out of trouble, but remember the days when kids just – PLAYED? No play dates, no scheduled activities; just play, preferably outside.

The worst thing I could say to my mother on a sunny Saturd
ay was, “I don’t have anything to do.” She would hand me a broom, mop and scrub brush without batting an eye. That was my scheduled activity. I’d rather schedule my own. Toys were optional, imagination essential.

We didn’t need an electrical cord, batteries or wi-fi. We played games that were powered by our brains: tag, freeze tag, hide and seek, house. We made ink from purple poke berries, created snow angels and rode bikes. We pretended to be everything from a fairy princess to Batman.

I remember an occasion when my grandmother handed me a spoon and sent me into the backyard to play. A modern child would call 911 and report abuse. I, on the other hand promptly began digging a hold to China – right under my grandfather’s prized box hedges. I never made it to China, but I was never given a spoon to play with again, either.

 

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