The empty brown book stared at me reproachfully, I thought, as I passed by it several times each day. I pretended not to hear it remind me that I was supposed to be filling the blank pages with sketches… of something, but what could the something be? Ever since I had excitedly unwrapped my sketchbook it had been languishing on the bookcase, light brown, nondescript, practically invisible to all but me.
Several months before, I had sent for the book, eager to participate in The Sketchbook Project. ( I learned about the project from Andra Watkins at The Accidental Cootchie Mama.) If you have not heard of the Sketchbook Project, it is a crowd sourced library of sketchbooks. You fill in your book, send it in, and it goes on traveling exhibits to museums. If you digitize your book, you will receive an email every time someone checks out your book from the exhibit. At least that is how I understand the process.
So now all I had to do was fill in the book. One day my grandmotherly thoughts mixed in with my thoughts of needing to complete the book. And Eureka! I had it! I would make the book be about what we old people used to play when we were little.
As a perpetual child, parent, grandparent, and play therapist, the idea of a book about playing resonated with me. Play is the work of children, but adults need to play as well. Documenting my play history would be a way to preserve memories for my grandchildren but would also be fun for me right now.
Psst. Hey. I’m Mindfulmagpie’s inner sixth grader. While Mindful is at the post office mailing in our sketchbook, I’m going to surprise her and complete her post. I should be writing the post anyway because I’m the one who completed the sketchbook! I know lots of sketchbooks are probably done by adult artists but that’s OK. I may be an adult artist one day. Here’s the cover!
The cover was brown card stock. I covered it with construction paper and photos, and topped it off with two coats of Mod Podge. I didn’t mind letting Mindful dedicate the book to her grandchildren. We’re all children anyway. Mindful and I had a really good time remembering what all we used to play when we were very young.
My first playmate was my older brother. He’s in the eighth grade now so we don’t have much to do with each other. I don’t remember the Hansel and Gretel episode. But I do remember the time we played ‘saloon” with mugs and soapy water while my mother was taking a nap. As we slid each mug down the countertop just the way they did in the Westerns, our mugs hit the broken tile floor with a resounding crash. Our Mother was not amused.
Next I began to play with the children in the neighborhood. Someone was always outside playing.
We had good times displaying our art at Mammaw’s house. Oops! I made a mistake on this page, making a colored test pattern on a black and white TV. Maybe I thought in color. Now, in sixth grade, we do have a color TV. And central air, finally. Our mothers and our maids always made us go outside. In fact they still do. I’ve always loved to be in the water. When I grow up I’m going to have my own swimming pool so I can swim whenever I want! Most years we have some lemonade stands and carnivals to earn money. But now that I’m in the sixth grade I’m going to try to start baby sitting. That’s much more sophisticated. I was MUCH younger when we did this play!
In the school year we had the whole afternoon to play until our Mothers called us for dinner. All we had after school was Girl Scouts. Our homework never seemed to take long. This year I mostly do mine on the school bus. Sometimes we meet right after school for Miss America. My answers to the contest questions are pretty good, but I get marked down on poise a lot. I ended the book here. Magpie tells me I’ll soon not be playing any of this any more, that we girls will all be passing notes in class and talking about boys and clothes. But what I want most right now is to not have to wear glasses and to be able to get braces like the older girls on the school bus. Braces look cool and you get excused from school a lot.
But since I’m not going to be playing this stuff much longer just remember this book is TOP SECRET!! If I find out any of you told about Chambermaids or Miss America you are DEAD MEAT!! I’ll tell EVERYBODY on the school bus that you are a BIG LIAR!!!!
What?? Who wrote all this on my blog post?
I did. You were having too much trouble writing it. Since I did something for you you should tell me some things about the future. Am I going to quit wearing glasses? Am I? Am I going to get braces? Am I? Am I?
That’s true. I was having trouble writing the post. And fair enough, you helped me so I should tell you some things. Sorry honey, but you’re going to keep wearing glasses FOREVER. The braces are also a no.
But I have a SPACE between my teeth!
You’ll be surprised how little you’re going to be bothered by that space. But I do have some good news. The swimming pool is a YES!
Yippee! I’m going to tell all my friends this afternoon at “Miss America”! Can I go now?
I love this idea…the Sketchbook Project AND your toys of yesteryear theme! I always loved hearing stories of what my parents and grandparents played with. Your grandchilden will cherish this one day.
Love the sketchbook and love the dialogue 🙂
This is so sweet and beautiful!! I love it, and I am so glad the grandkids will have these memoris passed on from you. Please don’t send it away forever!
Don’t worry honey; I took pictures of every page! I thought they could check it out of the traveling library. But I see I need to copy my pictures and make a second copy?
Ah, typo! Sorry about that!
Holy cow, what a project, and what a magnificent blog post! I can’t imagine the amount of time you must have invested in creating the sketchbook alone. Having your younger self come back for the narration was wonderfully clever.
And now of course, I’m quite desperate to be a child again. Thank you for not only supplying the link to the article that gives us permission and encouragement to play as adults, but also your idea book that simply crammed full of heart-warming suggestions. I’ve got to find my kids’ crayon box. I’m hankering for a little coloring time. 🙂
Thank you, Peak! You would be surprised ow hard some things were to draw. It was a humbling experience indeed. And now not only do I want to color but I also think I deserve new crayons and a coloring book. Why don’t you ride your bike over and let’s color?
Our grandchildren will absolutely treasure this. I guess I better get started on mine.
Yes! Get started on yours!
This. Is. AWESOME. I hope I can find a Sketchbook Project vehicle next year and check it out. This is one that needs to be held in hand.
Mine is still staring at me…………….
Fill it in, Andra and it can be used for a “Make A Memory” post. Re my subject matter, I had never tried to picture what I played in chronological order. It was a fascinating process, at least to me. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.
What a beautiful sweet offering to your grandbaby and all future babies. I just love this!
Thank you, Miss Charlotte. It was a fun trip down memory lane. I’ll bet your mother used to also tell you and your brothers to “Go out and stay out!”
Dear Magpie of yesteryear and of the present day, why was I not allowed to play Miss America or Chambermaids with you? Let’s plan to play these games AND color and paint the next time we meet!
I remember the glue from Mammaw’s house. I think I still have a painting I did which had framed. Let’s make sure to create every day!
You could not play those games bc a second grade Miss America candidate or chambermaid would not have been taken seriously, silly! While sixth grade candidates and maids are TOTALLY believable!
This. Is. Wonderful. 🙂
Thank you so much, Twisted! There was much more that didn’t make it into the book, but it sure got me thinking about the importance of play, something we all need more of! Thanks for reading and commenting!