Yesterday’s post turned into a lament for the leftover-ness of play. So, today’s post follows on, but in a different vein. You see, somehow a big yellow snake came to be chalked on the pavement. The minor workings of a pesky guerrilla playworker, no doubt . . .
I was intrigued, sat in my office within earshot of the passers-by, along the yellow-snaked path: I heard some children go by, on their way down to the shops, or the park, or towards town, or just going about their day on this, one of the main thorough-fares in the area. ‘Look,’ some children said, ‘a snake!’ or ‘It’s a snake!’
I wandered about indoors, or on my way to the car, going about the business of my day, and caught sight of a small child walking ponderously along, stopping, looking, jumping squarely on the snake’s head, both her feet between its eyes. Or, I saw children walk over it, look backwards as they trailed behind adults: they had puzzled looks on their faces, these particular individuals. I thought, strange, but then of course – this snake doesn’t look like a child’s yellow snake at all. It caught them wondering for a short while though.
Now I should report the actions of the adults. I only wandered around the business of my day, or pottered in the office, listening out, for a short while, but only one man paid attention to the child he was with when she told him: ‘Look, a snake.’ Well done to him. Every other adult didn’t see, didn’t hear: couldn’t see or hear? There was one child-less man who walked past, of the several child-less adults walking by . . . I didn’t really think a child-less adult would see a yellow snake on the pavement . . . (when I studied at university, years ago, it was suggested to us that only architects went around noticing things like roofs or anything else above eye-level in a cityscape; it’s a similar thing with anything below eye-level, perhaps, i.e. the leftover-ness of childness) . . . There was one man, one man who saw. He walked straight over, but at least he saw. I got in my car and left the scene to play itself out in any way it might happen to.
I write all of this because, although it might not seem a great deal to anyone who might be reading this outside of the playwork sphere, really that’s the point: it is a great deal. A yellow snake chalked on the pavement, even one that may just be there for a day until the rain comes, is a small significance. Yesterday I found little evidence of play leftover-ness. Readers should draw their own conclusions. Today, a yellow snake caught the attentions of some children, caused some minor fluctuations in the play-time continuum, had the potential for stirring some latent thoughts in one child’s adult, and in one child-less adult . . .
On this, National Play Day in the UK, the curious incident of the yellow snake was just a very, very minor moment of possible play formation. National Play Day is an event well worth supporting, every year; however, every day should be a Play Day, right? Raise your clenched chalks, comrades: make play possible!