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One of the wonderful things about having children is the excuse that it provides to do some of the things that we did when we were kids, like playing marbles or flying kites.

And, later on in life, if you’re lucky enough to have grandchildren, you get to do all those things again; a perfect reason for dragging out the old doll house, train set or model cars without giving people the impression that you’re really losing it.

We kept many of our children’s toys so when our grandchildren visit there are plenty of things to keep them amused but the favorite seems to be, not the dolls and cars, but games like ‘hide and seek’ and ‘doctors.’ My husband was recently enlisted as patient, and my daughter and I laughed as, from the other room, we could hear genuine cries of agony as the kids ministered to him. We finally decided he’d suffered enough when littlest grandson came in and told us Grandpa was going to have his head cut off!

One of my favorite games when I was a child was playing ‘shop.’ I had a little store with  miniature counter and cash register. My mother would empty her kitchen shelves of cereal packets, biscuits etc and I would set them all up on display, then would pretend to be the shopkeeper while Mum spent countless hours being the customer. I would wrap her purchases up in paper and put them in her basket and then, taking them all out again and replacing everything back in the shop, would repeat the process ad infinitum. Of course this was back in the days when there was no such thing as ‘self service’ and the shopkeeper had his or her work cut out trying to sell the goods.  My great-grandfather knew a thing or two about that since he owned a grocery store in Dalston in the early 1900’s.

Later Mum played this game with my eldest daughter and recently I introduced my grandchildren to the notion of setting up ‘shop’ only this time with all the greetings cards that I’d saved and a stash of monopoly money.  Where I used to use pennies and halfpennies in my ‘shop,’ my grandkids are now making their purchases with thousand dollar bills! A sign of the times!

‘Dress-up’ was another one of my favorites.  I remember parading about in my grandmother’s fox fur, a mangy-looking thing with glass eyes and a sinister grin, and high heel shoes, with a pair of opera glasses slung around my neck. I think I may have harbored secret yearnings to be an actress but as I grew up my self-confidence completely deserted me and I had to content myself with working behind the scenes at the local Repertory Company.

My granddaughter loves playing dress-up too but now she’s wearing Mum’s best ‘go to wedding’ hat and the feather boa that my girls bought to celebrate her 90th birthday; a definite improvement on the fox fur. Grandpa and I are allowed to join in and are suitably attired in anything from firemen’s helmets and fairy wings to pirate outfits and witches hats.

This revisiting of our childhood is not restricted to indoor games.  Now we can legitimately go to the park and play on the swings and slides, citing safety as our reason for accompanying the munchkins on all the kiddie rides at the fun fair.  We can blow bubbles and dabble our feet in the paddling pool.  We can pet the animals in the children’s zoo, play ball and build sandcastles without appearing to be in our dotage.

Hopefully, somewhere down the line, there will be great-grandchildren in which case I’ll be digging out the Barbie dolls, Teddy Ruxpin and the Cabbage Patch kids and revisiting my childhood once again.

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