When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
1 Corinthians 13:11
I grew up in East London the second eldest of six siblings, three boys and three girls.. We lived, mostly, in a three bedroom council flat. My parents in one bedroom and the boys and girls in separate bedrooms. My brother and I slept at opposite ends of the bed and were constantly yelling at each other “get your feet out of my face”.
I’m not sure why, but I was the one elected to look after my younger siblings. I would baby sit them and walk them to school…..and I didn’t mind or protest doing this. As I grew older, left school and earned money I would take them to the pictures e.g. Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music. I was in the boy scouts for seven years and also helped out as “Bagheera” assistant cub master.
I emigrated to Chateauguay, Quebec, Canada. Being a Catholic I naturally migrated to the local church for Sunday Mass. The priest talked about wanting to start a scout troop so I volunteered as Scout Master. At our first meeting in the church hall I discovered boxing gloves in the cupboard. I asked the boys if they wanted to give it a try and they were all excited. Having chosen two volunteers I proceeded to lace them up. When I told them to start, the more aggressive boy literally flew at his opponent and pounded two or three punches in his face, causing his nose to bleed profusely. I stopped it immediately and that was the end of my attempt to introduce boxing to the scouting movement. I was a little worried over the parents response to this event but they were okay with it.
After two years in Quebec I married and moved to Ontario. A year later we had a baby girl, purchased a condominium town house and soon after our son was born . The condominium consisted of 34 units arranged in a square with a green in the middle. I used to think of it as a village. A large park backed onto the town houses, with trails and a man made lake. Adjacent to the park was a wooded area. We were run by a property manager but I advocated for self management, which was approved by the majority, and I became both treasurer and social director. I organized events mainly related to children’s activities because there must have been about 40 children living in the condominium. War games in the woods, apple bobbing, parades with decorated bikes, carnivals, water balloon fights, fireworks etc. We also had volley ball and dodge ball games of about 20 a side, street hockey and basketball.
On hot summer days we would have water fights with hoses, buckets, water guns and water balloons. I would spend hours, in the morning,with a few children helping to fill water balloons and that afternoon would see an epic battle with the parents versus the children. My next door neighbour, a carpenter, engineered a dunking tank. He asked if I wanted to volunteer to test it. My response was to go inside and dress up in a suit, shirt and tie and sit under the dunking tank. The children started throwing tennis balls at the contraption. It worked wonderfully, a great feat of engineering.
In the Winter we would organize snowball battles, one team versus another, having first built snow forts. We would celebrate all the holidays as a community, Easter egg hunts, Christmas carolling, Halloween, Canada Day fireworks, Fall corn roasts.
Fast forward ten years and my daughter had triplets along with her fourteen month old son and my wife and I looked after them from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. My play skills were badly needed in the twelve years we cared for them. I blogged about this here https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/lensdiary.blog/458
Childhood is a time of exploration,adventure and learning with a mixture of selfishness and tantrums. I have not yet put away all childish things. May we all hold on to the positive aspect of childhood and discard the negative.