A few weeks ago we spent a windy afternoon on the beach. While Dan and the dog ran off to play with a rugby ball, I people-watched. And the people I watched were flying kites, which got me thinking: I haven’t flown a kite in about 18 years. When I was little it was such a thing to do, to drive up to White Horse Hill and fly kites on blustery days, no doubt burning off some frenetic energy at the same time.
The kite-flyers stuck with me, so I asked everyone on Instagram: what do you miss doing now that you’re not 5? As always you guys are so forthcoming with your responses, and reading through the comments was at times laugh out loud, at others bittersweet, but always completely heartwarming.
A huge volume of your memories were based around being outside, whether kicking autumn leaves (something I definitely still make a point of doing every year) and jumping in puddles, or paddling in the sea and squealing with Super Soakers. One activity that kept coming up was ‘rolling down a hill’ – as so many of you had mentioned it, and as a child I had been a voracious hill-roller too, I decided that I would roll down a mild incline in the playing field where we walk the dog. Turns out, we don’t do this as adults because the motion sickness makes you want to DIE. I’m going to stick to the leaf jumping, thank you.
Perhaps unsurprisingly from creative women on Instagram, imagination and creativity were quite prevalent, from making treasure maps to memories about Crayola and pasta pictures. One of my personal favourites was @damsonslate‘s comment “pretending to be a horse”, because I spent about 75% of my childhood galloping, either on or being, an imaginary horse.
But what came up over and over again was creating for the sake of creating. To paint or draw for no other reason than you want to, without the pressure of impressing someone or publishing it. You missed playing with your creativity rather than everything having to be meaningful. After watching my cousin’s 2 year old daughter painting over the summer, I get what you mean. For her, it was a way to spend a fun ten minutes going mental with a paintbrush rather than a meaningful act.
Which ties in to the overwhelming theme I got from the comments: we missed being carefree. There was so much nostalgia about not caring what people thought, about doing things because you just wanted to. We missed the lack of responsibility, of running around in circles just because. And our relative uptightness, when we think about it, haunts us. Just like I couldn’t shake my lack of kite-flying over the last decade, you too said you thought often about how you don’t run/climb trees/cartwheel anymore.
So, I have a challenge for you. I wasn’t going to do this, but I feel somewhat compelled to. This autumn, do something to embrace your inner child. Make an ugly collage or crack out the poster paints and have fun with them. Go on a walk where you don’t tiptoe past the puddles but give them a good splash. Run down a hill or do anything thing that makes you throw back your head in carefree laughter.
Here are some places to start…
@teandascone – Playing Hide and Seek
@_natashachan – I miss being more carefree and how you can do silly things as a child without looking weird
@aspiringminimalist.ca – Jumping on a trampoline! I did do this recently (after a glass or two of wine) and it was super fun but tiring
@racer_nell – How when you’re a kid it’s perfectly acceptable to suddenly run excitedly towards something you’ve seen (some birds or a leaf for instance). So then I just decided to start running for a bit. It took a lot of courage, and I didn’t do it for long but it was pretty liberating and joyful!
@sophiewarrensmith – Believing in Father Christmas
@katbluejay – Running down a hill so fast you think your legs are going to fall off. I’ve become so much more cautious as an adult, miss the freedom and lack of concern I had as a kid
@racer_nell – Creating for no reason. Not to show anyone, or publish anywhere, but just because you want to
@landfeels – Building a fort in your living room! My boyfriend and I did this last winter and went extravagant now that we didn’t have our parents to limit us!
@lizmmosley – Blowing bubbles, rolling down hills, building dens in the woods, pulling the sofas apart and building forts, water fights with Super Soakers
@foragedheather – Rolling down grassy hills was one of my favourite things when I was little. It elicited so much joy, such playfulness
@grainandfeather – Making sand castles, going down slides and taking all the small secret paths
@dirtyworkdesigns – Experimenting: pasta pictures, finger painting. Now we’re grown ups there’s so much pressure to make meaningful things and be impressive. But some days I just want to play!
@wanderluceblog – Snuggling in pyjamas all day long, under a duvet in front of a film
@themonthofhoney – Jumping in puddles and running through crisp mountains of autumn leaves
@rhywbeth_bach – Eating peas straight from the pod with my Taid
@allthatisbraw – Since having kids I’ve really enjoyed scribbling freely with crayons and paints – even being an artist, I wouldn’t play about in such a relaxed fashion. That and looking at bugs!
@creativecountryside – Pretending the garden was the whole worlds and journeying from country to country (flower to plant)
@melwiggins – Cartwheels. Whimsical cartwheeling!
@_andmother – Drawing, colouring, making paper hats
@damsonslate – Pretending to be a horse
@emd347 – Skipping, making dens, making treasure maps, clap-hand songs
@nonisadzi – I miss colouring with my Crayola big pack 64, I loved the gold and silver colours. And roller skating!
@_jessicalarge – I haven’t climbed a tree in ages! I think about it often.
@frances_tanner – I would paddle in my knickers and not be embarrassed… Also eat Black Jacks until my tongue turned black
@onecurrent – Catching fireflies, blowing bubbles and my treehouse!
@vanillalemoncake – Swings, sandcastles and sundaes
@editedcollective – Mine would be making something out of paper cache on a rainy Sunday afternoon in front of a rubbish cartoon!
@acornandauger – I used to have teddy bear picnics at home with cheese cubes and apple on little cocktail sticks. Now that you’ve mentioned it I actually feel really nostalgic about it
@ofdayslikethis – When I was little my mum used to do arrangements with dried flowers. I used to sit with her on the carpet surrounded by a sea of petals. I loved watching her pick and pluck from the bunches.
What do you miss from childhood?
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