Mighty Life List
Jan 7 2013

Kids’ Stuff

I’m meeting with Victoria today to talk about my bedroom makeover. I’ve been thinking I might want more plants in the house, and I remembered that when I was little, I would lie down in the backyard and blow on the maidenhair ferns to watch themĀ quiver.

Did you ever do that? I remember hundreds of odd things I did to pass the time. What was your quirky little kid thing?

Photo by David Hoffman.

34 Responses to “Kids’ Stuff”

  • Laura Fitton Says:

    there was a brook in our front yard and i spent days digging canals and building damns and watching brook shape and reshape itself in sand and stones.

  • Amber Says:

    One word (or maybe it’s two) – cattails. Talk about fun with plants. It’s a wonder that they even had time to grow before my cousins and I got our little hands on them. We’d come home covered in fuzz. My grandma hated it.

  • cmb Says:

    When we were bored on a saturday, my brother and I would dig through junk drawers and laundry rooms and my stepdad’s car for spare change and call it a treasure hunt.

    I used to climb anything I could find a handhold on. I still kind of do that, but there are fewer trees I’m not scared of breaking around now.

    I have especially vivid memories from fourth and fifth grade–In fifth grade my best friend was a sweet boy named Matt, and he and I drew a map of the playground and renamed all of the different parts of the playground to fit them into a fantasy world we’d created. We convinced pretty much the entire class to pretend to be centaurs and unicorns and pixies and fairies and trolls and any other creature you could throw into a fantasy world. Then we proceeded to enact epic battles and rescues and coups every. single. day. of the school year. We called it Adventuria, and I wonder if anyone else from that class remembers it. In some ways it was my rebellion against the second grade teacher who once caught me staring off into space daydreaming and scolded me for doing nothing. I remember even then thinking, I’m not doing nothing! I’m thinking.

  • Amanda Says:

    I made jewelry and accessories with tissues.

  • sugarleg Says:

    they range from quirky to slightly destructive? the one that popped in my head was laying out Kleenex and spraying dollops of my dad’s shaving cream into them… then folding them up like pillows, then piercing the tissue with a safety pin to watch the shaving cream ooze out. so weird. love it.

  • Nancy King Says:

    I would organize teams of imaginary animals. Usually bears. They had uniforms.

  • Nicole Says:

    You know when you open a car door on a super hot day, and those heat rays squiggle out on the pavement? I just *knew* those were fairies.

  • elsiroomom Says:

    My mother would tell me “go outside and play” – so I would go outside with my book, and read up in a tree, instead of in the house. It was awesome!

  • Megan Says:

    I used to look for four leaf clovers. I got quite good at it! I still occasionally find a four leaf clover pressed between the pages of books I’ve had for a long time.

  • Christian Says:

    I used to sing “Rock of Ages” (the hymn, not the Def Leppard song) while keyboarding made-up tunes. The words were in little song book that came with the keyboard. I used to imagine people being stunned to discover my talent, all without lessons (savant!) – I love the megalomania of childhood.

  • Christy Says:

    My favorite thing to pass the time was to sit at my babysitter’s kitchen table and sniff the ground pepper shake until it made me sneeze. Sometimes, I’d try to make myself sneeze as soon as possible. Other times, I’d try to prolong the sneeze for as long as I could. As far as I know, I am the only person on the planet to ever think of this as a productive way to pass the time. To this day, I have a strong desire to own a pair of the Tupperware S&P shakers that she had on her table. I need to harness that power again.

  • Karin Says:

    I am the single anti-game anomaly in three generations of my family. My parents and my sister and any visiting relatives would gather in the evening to play Parcheesi or Scotland Yard or cards and I would lie on the sofa in the living room — wanting to be a part of the family, but not wanting to play their games. I would stare out our huge picture window and make pictures in the negative spaces between the branches of the trees outside. I could spend hours, content to hear the animations from the next room while making up stories in my head about the characters imagined in the trees.

  • Tina McCain Says:

    Growing up in the country in Alabama, I would climb a lot of barbed wire or electric fences (tricky), run from snakes while picking blackberries, eat raw onions like apples, and listen to music on 8-tracks and make up dance routines (“won’t you take me to, funky tooown”)

  • Lori Says:

    Driving with my mom or dad at night I would squint my eyes and move my head back and forth to make all the lights grow and dance.
    I also recorded radio shows on my parents cassette recorder using different accents

  • LaurenR Says:

    I grew up in Colorado where people use golf ball-ish sized decorative rocks as part of their landscaping. I used to sit on the sidewalk with bigger rocks and crush the small ones into dust. I loved how they made all different colors.

  • MissusB Says:

    We spent an entire summer choreographing and practicing our routine so that we could audition to be backup kids to the Carpenters. In the end, none of our parents would take us to the audition. We would have totally gotten picked.

  • sarawr Says:

    I used to make fairy clothes out of flower petals, thorns from the roses, leaves, etc. I used twigs for mannequins and the stamens (or, uh, pistils? Damn it, fourth-grade science) from four o’clocks and honeysuckle as thread. It was… painstaking, and probably weird, but completely and totally engrossing.

  • Amy Says:

    I remember riding in the backseat with my parents up front in our Buick SkyLark down a freeway that had a really tall wooden fence along one side of it for miles. I was convinced that the zoo was on the other side of the fence (why else would it need to be so tall?) and I would look for giraffe heads peeking out along the top.

    I also collected tree frogs in the zipped pockets of my kangaROOS shoes. I had good intentions of keeping them as pets, but I would always forget they were in there, and none of them ever lived. Sorry, frogs.

  • Shevon Says:

    I grew up surrounded by orchards, so I spent a lot of time climbing trees, picking my own fruit, and riding inner tubes down the creek that cuts passed the Gallo almond orchards. During the winter I spent my weekends wandering along the banks of the creek. I was sure one day I would find some long forgotten treasure that told a story about the history of the area. I even found an old bottle down there once! During senior year my husband (at the time boyfriend) and I paddled a canoe around his backyard when the creek flooded and rose ten feet to the bottom of the path down from his house. Years later we got married in the meadow in his backyard next to my beloved creek.

  • megan Says:

    As for plants, the fragrance of citrus blossoms indoors is intoxicating (and certainly a semi-exotic treat for this Midwesterner). I remember you mentioning you grew up with citrus trees, and having a tiny meyer lemon or other small variety could bring a little bit of childhood into your house. (They do need good light and a bit of attention, as most worthwhile things do.)

  • megan Says:

    (I could be making up having read about you growing up with citrus trees! But it sounds plausible? Anyone from California ought to have.)

  • Jen C Says:

    I loved pretending to be someone else in some long-lost time. My favorite thing was to play “pioneers” with my best girlfriend who lived next door. We would don our mothers’ hippie skirts, wear lacy blouses, put our hair up into braids and buns, and gather supplies: play slates, MacGuffy Readers my mom collected from her teaching days, rag dolls I would purchase, play money from historical sites, oatmeal because that is what we assumed they ate on wagon trains, and my mom’s canning supplies to “cook” with. We would spend hours and days of our summers on the front porches and back yards in the neighborhood pretending we were fording rivers, braving nights alone under the stars, and finally making it to the new homestead. We were the Ingalls family made new. We even would take bars of soap from our mother’s bathrooms, shave them down to curls and reform them into balls to make pioneer soap.

    Years later we have joked that our calling in life should be as reenactors at local historical sites. I even bought her handmade soap from Williamsburg for a bridal shower gift. It brought back so many summer sun-drenched memories for us both:)

  • misstraceynolan Says:

    Talk show in my living room. I would interview my stuffed animals with my sesame street microphone and then end the show by sitting in my kid sized rocking chair and singing a song. Apparently my love for Dina Shore knew no bounds. This was all before Kindergarten. Once I learned how to read a lot of the creative play was off the table ; )

  • Chelsey Says:

    When riding in the car, I used to imagine a moto-cross rider flying in and out of the ditches and even driving on the power lines alongside the car. Sah-weet!

  • Jenine Says:

    Amanda, I totally wish I could see the tissue jewelry and accessories you created. A thing at my elementary school was to make “pottery”. Each kid piled up a cone of sand and made an impression in the middle with an elbow. Then we ran over to the water fountain and got a big mouthful of water. The water dribbled into the sand cup until it was full and we waited for it to drain into the sand. We carefully moved the dry sand away and lifted up the finished piece. We’d try to line them up carefully on the sidewalk without breaking them.

  • Jenn Says:

    I would spend entire days peeking through the baby’s tears ground cover looking for roley poley bugs. (Confession? I still love to do this! )

  • Sheri Bheri Says:

    I remember playing imagination games a LOT: fort houses, dolls, stuffed animals, Barbies, small plastic animals, even Legos (oh how I would have LOVED mini-figs!). But to me, the best part was that my parents never made me put away my toys every night. I loved that I could just return to my game the next day, without having to set everything up again.

    Over the winter break, my 8 y/o daughter recorded a bunch of videos of different story lines with her dolls. They were SO awesome! I’m so glad she’s got an active imagination.

  • Amy Says:

    I would hold my Mom’s makeup mirror down by my knees and walk around the house as if I were walking on the ceiling. “Stepping” over door jams and going around lights. I thought it was so fun! I think that simple discovery of perspective when I was very young made me look at the world differently. I became very curious about the different ways to view things and I don’t think I’ve ever felt boredom because of it.

  • cheri Says:

    Ransacked the development going up across the field, taking little tiles & 2×4 bits and pretending they were various walkie-talkie type devices while I happily hung out alone under a blue tarp canopy in my backyard. Huh. Remembering that makes me realize how, even then, I was an uber-introvert who still really wanted to communicate. (And, yes, the endless hours tracking the mysterious roly poly tribe!)

  • Christy Says:

    Amy, I forgot all about walking on the ceiling with a mirror. That was always so cool. Walking down stairs was VERY trippy. I may have to do this in the house that I own as a grown-up, just to experience my home in a new way. THANKS for the inspiration.

  • Cathy Says:

    When I was a kid I loved the swings at the park. We had a park literally right outside our backyard, I was so lucky. My best friend and I would swing and pretend that we were in an airplane, sometimes a space ship and would imagine up crazy places and things that we pretended to see below us. Places like Monsterland and Candyland, etc. I was always the Captain :)

  • Elis Says:

    I was convinced that I could control traffic lights with my mind, so whenever we approached a red light I would put my fingers on my temples and stare as hard as I could at the light, willing it to turn green.

    My parents would manage their driving speed so that, more often than not, it worked.

  • Tasha Says:

    I used to “walk on the ceiling” with a mirror too! How funny! My other favorite thing was to make pictures and patterns with glow in the dark silly putty. I stuck it to the walls in the hallway then closed all the doors to the bedrooms so it was dark. After I shined a flashlight on it I’d block off the entrance to the hallway and then charge admission to my fun house. All of my customers were imaginary, but they loved it.

  • Monica Says:

    I used to walk on the ceiling with a mirror too!