A Skill that Cannot be Forgotten

6a019b004777b1970c01a511affb93970c.jpg

“So childhood is turned from a time of freedom into a time of résumé building.”

Peter Gray couldn’t have encompassed the story of childhood in today’s time any better. From an time of play and freedom to an time of whose grade has the higher letter. Parents think they are giving their kids an head start, but really play is what makes kids smart. Rules, regulations, and restrictions are what make kids dreadful; freedom, fun and fulfillment are what make kids successful. Imagination, ingenuity, creativity; these are the qualities you think of when you are asked to think an successful person. But these qualities can’t be taught by more school and more homework; they are taught by fun and outdoor activity.

Peter follows this up with a interesting point.

We’ve become a worse world for children, not necessarily a worse world for adults.

It is not the kids’ fault that play is declining; it is the adults’ fault for creating an worse world for children to play in, there is no silver lining.

This Spanish song, in English titled “Where Will the Kids Play?” imagines an world where nature and the outdoors have been so polluted and destroyed by adults that children have nowhere to play. An world where children would go outside to play everyday turned into an world will kids can no longer play; an world grown tired and gray.

Playing at school for a hour retaught me something that I had long forgotten. Meeting new people, making new friends, and creating memories are what I have gotten. Unrestrained play is what teaches kids to be social, teaches kids to be kind, and teaches kids imagination, creativity, problem solving, and most importantly teaches kids what it means to be an kid. May sound cheesy, but there kids today that don’t know any other life other than writing essays, doing homework, and graphing on the coordinate grid. Perhaps we are trying to prepare kids to be adults, but by doing that we are hurting their chances of being an kind, social, and understanding adult. We are prohibiting kids from playing because they must instead be doing sports or schoolwork, but an stressed and sad child is the only result.

pic884234.jpg
“Clue” was among one of the many games that we could’ve played. 

Taking a hour out of my stressful and impacted day to just play really made me enjoy the gift of being an kid again. Playing an game I had never played, “Clue”, before with some people that I had never met or talked to before, I hadn’t felt so much like I kid since way back when. Making up rules as we go, laughing along as we played, we had so much fun making memories as new friends. I picked Tien, Evan, Harshin, and Ian to play with because they had all never played “Clue”, so I knew that this could only have an good end. It has been years since I had played an board game while having so much fun at the same time, but what I particularly most enjoyed was meeting new people and learning more about who my classmates really are. Perhaps you don’t really know a person until you play with them.

SSS_0352.jpg
The chaos and hilarity of playing sports like dodgeball and soccer with an large number of people is prime example of how unregulated play can help build certain skills.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed playing “Clue”, I do wish I had more time to go outside to play soccer or dodgeball. Playing soccer, dodgeball, or basketball with an large group of friends were the times in which I had made the most memories with friends, memories big and small. I really believe I could have gotten to know more people and could have had an lot of fun if I had had more time to play an outdoor activity. Playing outside with others is also one of the best ways to form friendships, strengthen team building skills, and get active while still having fun. Sometimes you forget how tired or hungry you are when you are outside with your friends and are on the run.

This freedom to play with whomever we wanted and whatever we wanted really brought me back memories of my childhood. I still have long lasting memories of playing soccer, building hideouts, playing tag, and meeting an new friend everyday really reminded me the importance of having freedom as child  to play with the other kids in your neighborhood. In this blogpost, I go over in depth about an particular story of my childhood and how I found freedom as an kid growing up. All the nerf wars, the pool fights, the youtube videos, it all will shape me to be the person I will be as a grownup. I remember how my creativity and imagination flourished as kid, and how important it was for me to meet and play with all the kids around me. It truly is something special to have an group of seven to twelve friends running around until we grew weary.

 

maxresdefault.jpg
Baron Games are one of the few times we as an school dedicate school time to play. How could we be better as an school if we learned the value of playing with others?

I really believe more teachers should join in on #GSPD2017, as it instills an very important value and skill in students; learning to play with each other. It really is incredible how modern schooling puts so little emphasis on socializing and learning to enjoy one another. More teachers should join in on this event not only because it serves as a way to ease students’ stress, but also because  it teaches students to be more friendly and cooperative. Having the entire school dedicate the entire day to just playing would foster so many connections and create a real sense of unity among students, for this I would be very appreciative.

Next year what should be done differently is that students should be allowed to play on the grass fields or on the basketball courts, that way there is more space to play games such as tag, basketball, soccer, and hide and seek. I also believe that being allowed to play with students from other classes that are also participating in #GSPD2017 is important, as we are exposed to students that we perhaps don’t usually see throughout the week. I really do believe that play is a important value and skill in America and that schools should be the first to defend this value, not be the ones to take it away. #GSPD2017 is an great opportunity to teach kids of all ages and grade levels to learn to have fun with each other and just PLAY!6pEk6tdwZhDrkhwS.jpg

Advertisements

Valley Park Apartments

Image result

Sing Little Bird, Sing

There was a nest, right there in our backyard, that brought joy to our home. It was a sort of symbiosis; we would feed and relieve the house sparrows of their thirst, and they would relieve us of our stress.

Four birds in a nest, one a mama and one a papa. The other two were the babies of the family, they could not yet sing.

Chirp chirp !

My dad wondered when the family would leave, I wondered when the kids would sing.

Chirp chirp!

My mom kept feeding them, nurturing them, hoping the birds would become our new pets someday.

Chirp chirp!

My brother was indifferent, he just liked to feed the birds their seeds. Maybe he wanted to see the baby birds grow.

Chirp Chirp Chirp!

Three birds singing, a tune so sweet, sweet like pan dulce. That would be breakfast.

Chirp chirp chirp!

Still one bird missing from the family, one bird that didn’t sing with the rest. Was it shy? Was it afraid of being embarrassed? Or did it have the most beautiful voice that only the purest of hearts could hear?

Chirp chirp chirp!

The three birds would wake me up when it was time to go to school, they would make me feel better when I felt like a fool.

Chirp chirp chirp!

A presentation the next day, I would have to stand all alone and sing in front of a class full of chirping birds.

Chirp chirp chirp!

Maybe the bird didn’t want to sing because it was nervous? Or it had too much to eat? Or maybe it was waiting for the perfect moment?

Chirp chirp chirp!

Maybe I was waiting for the perfect moment and I shouldn’t be afraid to let my voice out, maybe I shouldn’t be embarrased and I shouldn’t be shy and I shouldn’t be afraid of other people calling my voice ugly or my presentation bad.

Chirp chirp chirp chirp chirp!

So we sang

A Moment that Wouldn’t Last

My mom says they’re gifts from the past, moments you can’t document or record but a moment you will remember forever and ever.

Like that one time I got an ward at school she said, or that one time I scored that one goal at that one tournament at that one game. I thought these were bad examples. I didn’t get it.

Maybe it was like that one time I first met my friends, or that one time when my brother was born, or maybe that one time I ate a piece of carne asada whole.

No that wasn’t it. I couldn’t remember those moments clearly, and mom said they were moments you wouldn’t lose grip of. Maybe I haven’t had one of these moments yet.

In month of my birthday, my mom told me my grandparents from Mexico, her parents, were coming. Apparently they haven’t been to the Unites States for more than twelve years, and everyone in my extended family would be in one house to welcome them. I shrugged. I didn’t know them, I’ve never met them. They would be here in five days.

Five days, five days, they went by like the soft ocean breeze  you feel when you’re at the beach.

And there they were, in my aunt’s house, my grandpa and my grandma. I don’t know what it was, but when I first saw them I broke into tears and embraced both of them.

“Hola mijo!”

Two words, soft yet hard to swallow like peanut butter. I felt mushy inside, like if my grandpa and grandma are what were missing to make my life stable. Mushy like the two words that made me cry even more.

I would never forget this moment. Maybe it was the circumstances, or maybe the weather, like that one time my brother cried because it was too hot. But the overwhelming emotion I felt when I saw and heard my grandparents wouldn’t last. The emotion I felt would never be repeated again. The moment I met my grandparents was a gift from the past.

Viva la Vida

One of my favorite songs, a song me and my friend would listen to everyday. We would listen to it at the sandy playground, at the grassy field, on top of the apartment complex’s carports.

Bill says he likes it because it has a nice melody, a nice beat to it that makes you want to twiddle your fingers in the air.

I thought I liked it because of the title, a piece of advice from Coldplay to just live your life without precaution. But if that’s what the title said, then the lyrics were about something completely different. A song about the downfall of one king and the rise of another, only to see the latter fall from his position of power and into a life of loneliness and regret.

A tale of loss and remorse, the tune of the human struggle. The song served as an explanation for the tragedies and failures of life. The song reflected that while it is possible to reach great heights, it is also possible to fall from great heights.

One day news came that my grandmother, my father’s mother had died. She was important to me. She had taught me to count in Spanish and was the first person I called “abuela”. They say she died happy on her land in Mexico, amongst many uncles and aunts that I had never met. Uncles and aunts that I could count in Spanish because of her.

She was gone, and maybe I was more devastated than my dad. My grandmother was the first close relative that I had lost. At the young age of twelve, I had learned that happiness and joy were built on upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand.

The Other Side of the Wall

 

I still remember vividly the times I had as a young boy growing up in my apartment complex. I was never timid, displayed by the fact that by the age of four I already had a circle of four to six friends. Everyday we would go outside, take in the warm sunlight, making up new games as we go. We would role play as TV characters, build hideouts, and even sometimes film silly videos:

This would be how I enjoyed my free time as a boy, sometimes even from 7 AM to 7 PM. But as time went on, and as my friends began to grow up, those who I once saw every single day began to move away. As a result, my group got smaller and smaller, until Bill and I were the only remaining friends.

Bill was a very generous kid, about three months my senior yet about 3 inches shorter. He spent most of his time outside (as most of us did at that age) either playing nerf or just following the rest of us. He may have been short, but Bill was the most enjoyable and emphatic presence among us. Once everyone else moved away, our time as friends only got better.

As aforementioned, we had about 12-16 “hideouts”, each designated for a specific task, such as having a party, hanging out, playing soccer, etc. But there was one hideout more discreet than the others, so discreet in fact that we used to hide our own possessions in it. Bill and I had found this hideout around the age of 8, when we had grew old enough to be able to run quickly enough away from trouble and, more importantly, be able to climb walls.

This last detail is very important as in order to access this specific hideout, you must be able to climb an approximately 6 and a half foot wall. The hideout itself was about a 75 square foot area, hidden behind a beige and barren wall separating the apartment complex parking lot from a dirt filled, wild grass ridden area:

What the other side of the wall looks like today
 On the opposite side of the wall was a barbed wire chain link fence, dividing the hideout from a sort of office complex. In hindsight, the hideout was more open and less secretive than we believed at the time, but even still very few knew about its existence. Some of the few that found about about its existence were my parents.

I was prohibited from entering that hideout, period. But as every little kid would do when they’re restrained from doing something, I went ahead and went there everyday, after school, during the weekend, all the time. Crossing the wall meant freedom, the wall was a barrier to fun.

This went on for about two months, until one Thursday when I came home early from school on the school bus. Bill and I had met up the hideout at about noon on a sunny and clear day in May. We were enjoying a couple of sodas while playing around with a couple of things we had in the hideout, when I had heard the distinct sound of my dad’s 2001 Dodge Intrepid. There was no mistaking it; as I looked through one of the donut sized holes in the wall, I saw my dad pulling in to park, completely unaware that I was  on the other side.

I began to panic, but at the same time I was exhilarated. I had to come up with a plan quick in order to refrain from being punished. I looked at Bill, and he looked back at me, and right then I knew what we had to do. I sprinted to the very end of the hideout to reach what seemed to be a good place to cross the wall without being seen. Simultaneously, Bill began to throw rocks against the wall to make a faint enough of a noise to distract my dad but still keep his identity secret.

Things began to slow down. Every second lasted a minute, and thoughts began to race through my head. I didn’t know if I could hop the wall in one go without struggling and being seen. I didn’t even know what was on the other side of the wall. But I still jumped.

It was a perfect jump, in fact. I successfully jumped up the wall, hopped over, and landed in the adjacent dumpster without being seen. Due to all the action that had just happened, I stood oblivious to the fact that I was in a dumpster, and I remained there, stagnant, for a couple of seconds, wondering if I made too much noise or if my body was seen by my father.

Once I recollected myself, I climbed out of the dumpster and walked towards my house wondering what my excuse for being at the dumpster area was. Turns out he made my excuse for me.

“So you took out the trash?” was the first thing my dad said to me. I immediately nodded my head, elated that I had successfully concealed the truth.

That’s when I learned that some of the most fun times I had growing up were when I had all of the freedom in the world, ignoring any boundaries I may have, running around the small apartment complex Bill and I called home. The wall showed me that I didn’t need a large group of friends to enjoy myself, I didn’t need fancy toys or gadgets to have fun. Sometimes not obeying authority produces some of the most memorable moments of your life.