by Amanda Cruz on May 08, 2022
It’s a happy talent to know how to play. It sounds easy, ‘just play’ but as you grow up you forget how to simply play and make an adventure out of nothing. The weight of the world, expectations and pressures are non existent (phew!). As a child, you’re tasked with a few simple but important things 1.) live in your imagination 2.) be curious 3.) most importantly, have fun and absorb the wonders of the world around you (“Knowledge is power” as my Dad would say). What a glorious treat being a child was!
My childhood was nothing short of adventure, imagination and good old classic fun. Being the youngest of five (yes, I said FIVE) meant everyday I was surrounded with my best pals (and happy to share as a grown adult, my siblings remain my very best friends). Growing up in a big family meant… chaos… but you know the good chaos, the chaos that means an adventure, new memories and fun was just around the corner. Finding a hotdog in your shoe (pranks were a common occurrence), hearing a fart or poop joke at dinner (which usually consisted of lined up box’s of cereal to choose from, Beefaroni - Chef Boyardee at its finest!- or Chipped Beef on Toast famously knows as “Shit on a Shingle”) and a house full of kids was the norm. The ‘Reed House’, was the house that welcomed all, friends would come in and out, neighbors would walk through the door like it was their house and help themselves to the fridge, it simply was a house where all was welcome.
Sitting down and reflecting on my childhood, I am flooded with happiness. Imagination and storytelling was a center of our childhood. Summer nights consisted of dance parties, being outside from morning until dusk, movie making (like… full scripted horror movies and newscast segments) and dress up with my Grandmothers beautiful vintage gowns from our wooden toy box (which later became a critical hiding place for well dumb teenager things… I digress). I vividly remember playing a ‘mental patient’ who escaped from a mental institute (backyard) and crashing the news cast segment as the wild escapee (I suppose I was an actress in the making; that HAD to be why I was given those characters :)). We were the masters of creativity, new cast stories about UFO’s, you know… Unidentified, flying… “ophers” as my sister would say and creating fake weddings gowns out of old sheets to host prestigious neighborhood weddings. You know it was a good day when you had dirt stained feet, a few bruises and scrapes and smiles ear to ear after creating the most epic bike jump in the middle of the cul-de-sac made out of old wood piled up (from who knows where?) and lets be honest… a janky foundation that would be questionable in today’s world.
So what do I miss most as a child? I miss the wonder, the simplicity and the pure and unadulterated fun. Children can teach us so many things (I would argue may be the best teachers of them all) but my favorite things are…to be happy for no reason, to always be curious and to fight tirelessly for something you want. I am lucky to re-live the wonders of being a child through my daughter Mila.
Amanda Cruz, May 08, 2022