Second childhood…

Frolicking Nick Verron
Frolicking ~ Nick Verron

With the unconscious wisdom of youth, my son decided that he would give me a games console. It is not, perhaps, the obvious gift for a woman about to enter her seventh decade, but then, he assures me that as I am a ‘tweenager’, it is entirely appropriate.

When the boys were young we always made sure they were up to date with the growing technological revolution. From the blocky arcade games of the ancient Atari to our first home computer, they soon became confident with consoles and keyboards and we played as a family, working out the puzzles, learning how to share,  to be patient and to persevere in the days when games took ages to load and progress could not be saved.

Spatial awareness, hand-eye coordination, foresight, reaction times and logic were all well-served, Games that now look primitive were often complex and demanding and to complete them was a real triumph. We have fond memories of those times. The software available for the Commodore 64 and the old Sinclair Spectrum even allowed you, with a little vary basic knowledge, to build your own games. Such violence as there was tended to be of the ‘Tom and Jerry’ variety, with little or no relation to reality and gameplay was often as much of an intellectual challenge as a test of manual dexterity. We hoped that introducing the boys to technology early would stand them in good stead in later years and that has indeed proved to be the case.

I am decades behind the times where technology is concerned these days. Modern consoles do more than play games, it seems, allowing you to access your PC, play music and films and do much of what I now do at the computer from the comfort of the sofa, which can only be a good thing… as long as the dog lets me share. All the skills that early gaming honed for the boys are ones that need to be maintained in later years… and oddly enough, I kept the best of the old games. So, in an unexpected role reversal, my son is giving his tweenage mother a games console for her birthday.

I rather like the idea of entering my tweenage years. The term is usually applied to prepubescent children, but works equally well for those in the nameless limbo between later decades. It sounds better than ‘dotage’ or ‘incipient old-age’, and my son has been accusing me of regressing for quite a while now. I like that idea too; the old saying that ‘youth is wasted on the young’ should really be embraced by those on the threshold of a second childhood. Why should we wait until others apply that term to us in a derogatory manner, when we can throw ourselves into our second childhood head first and enjoy it?

When you consider the characteristics of a child, and the outlook of those older folk who seem to radiate joy, there is little difference. While the young have not yet learned to distrust the motives of people and events, the old have garnered enough experience to see straight through any subterfuge, dismissing the absurdities of human nature, so those at both extremities of life may see the world through clear and untroubled eyes.

The very young do not concern themselves with the far distant future and nor do the very old. At the beginning of life, the future is so far distant that it is impossible to envisage, while at the tail end of life it is so close it becomes transparent. Now matters; for the very young, there is nothing else… later, as tomorrows become increasingly uncertain, there seems little point wasting energy peering into your own unreliable future.

Small children care little about the opinion of others, it is a learned behaviour acquired as a reaction to dismissal and rejection, both real and perceived. The passing years bring a freedom from worrying about how the world judges us too… and this happens at a time when, for many, the responsibilities of the daily grind are lessened as our offspring sculpt lives of their own and grandchildren allow us to play as children again ourselves.

Granted, that is not the story for everyone, but I believe we all have the capacity to access at least some part of the inner exuberance of youth, even when the body is no longer willing to play with as much flexibility as we might like.

Life was carefree as a very small child. I remember those childhood years… the early ones before things got complicated. I remember how it felt to walk barefoot in the snow, laugh at raindrops racing on windowpanes or covering my skin with tiny, tickling diamonds. I remember making daisy chains, blowing dandelion ‘clocks’ to tell the time and digging up bits of pottery from the school playground, wanting as much to be an archaeologist as a dancer. I remember walking on walls, hunting crabs in rock pools and laying in the grass watching caterpillars. I remember feeling every day was an adventure.

With his gift my son has given me more than a games console, he gave me a timely reminder. I don’t need to remember any more. I just need to do it again.

55 thoughts on “Second childhood…

      1. Sue, why do we wait you ask? We are much wiser now. We did not know how important it was to play when we were working and slightly blind to having childlike fun. For a few years, this in my 40’s I participated in a spiritual growth group. Every Sunday they would have games day. This, I thought was so stupid (at the time). Why waste our time playing games instead of getting on with our group lessons and discussions. Sometimes I would not show up. When I did participate and played along, I don’t think I let myself go completely because I thought it was silly to have fun like a child. This completely changed for me when my daughter had a son. Adult me turned into 56 years childlike me. He lived with us during the day while Mom went to work, this for a whole year, He taught me how to play again. Today in my mid 70’s I visit my husband who lives in a Nursing Home. I bring him to the games room and we play. Oops …this is a long reply.

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        1. I don’t mind long replies, Hélène 🙂
          You are right, we get lost in the responsibilities and hang-ups of adulthood all too easy, but there is always a child inside who wants to play… we just don’t remember to let her out often enough 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  1. I remember when the Commodore 64 entered our family home too. It was often fun. Though I am not a gamer myself I used enjoy the graphics and seeing the odd adventures the little cartoon characters got up to. My grand children tell that there are some very pretty games available now and some have very interesting story lines too. If you like gaming it can be really good way to relax.
    I like your thoughts on childhood and the idea of taking the time to embrace those attitudes later in life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I enjoyed the games that require a bit of thought rathr than the all-action kind. many of the new games are absolutely incredible as far as graphics are concerned, but the older ones required skill and a lot of thought… and I’ll probably stick with those. I’m not really a gamer… but I’d rather be playing than sitting watching most of the stuff on TV these days.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I have always been a ‘gamer’, although these days I don’t have time for more than a quick one while I eat my lunch. I love online jigsaws too. They say it keeps your mind and brain young, but so far, not much sign of that!

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  3. Wow, having watched our sons play sports on PlayStation for years and years, I have come to appreciate these games. I don’t play them, but I see how much they have to offer. There’s a lot of thinking and creativity behind making the games. And that makes them fun for people of all ages. Hope you get some good games and enjoy your second childhood!

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  4. I am in my mid 70s and have been a gamer for many years. I am the only person of my age I know who is. My eldest grandson’s friend said he thinks me really cool. However, I think a lot of my friends of my own age think I’m a bit weird.
    I enjoy playing Forge of Empires at the moment. It’s fun ‘talking’ to people from all over the world.
    Keep on playing your console, and ignore anyone who tells you it’s childish. We had so little time in our lives when we were working and bringing up children that we should be able to indulge ourselves now, and be a bit silly and childish.

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  5. That is a most interesting gift to receive from your son, Sue. I have never been into gaming although both my boys are. I like modern technology mainly for its social media and research capabilities. I look forward to reading how you are enjoying the gaming world.

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  6. I would be happy to be called a tweenager. In fact, I am a tweenager author who writes for tweens! It is never too late to have a happy childhood! I can’t remember who said that but I have always loved it. I had one happy childhood, now it’s time for another one. Enjoy your console, a great gift.

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  7. I’m trying to remember the names of the games we played with David – solving mysteries. I seem to remember the bad guy was called Malcolm. They were great fun. I must ask him – he’ll remember.
    Have fun. When I hit 60 a friend (whose 70th birthday is at the end of this month) assured me the sixties were the best and most fun and she realised she could just be her and had no need to prove herself to anyone. I think she’s right – but maybe next month she’ll be saying the seventies are the best yet!.

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    1. Everyone rolled their eyes when I turned forty…and fifty… as if life was all downhill from there. So far, it has only got better. I’m quite looking forward to my sixties… plus, I will…eventually… get to retire ( unless the givernment change their minds yet again…) 😀

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  8. I’ve bypassed the tweens and am definitely older. I don’t have a games console because I don’t need one. I don’t play games. I could — I have a gaming computer and games to play — but I don’t have time. It turns out all that spare time i was going to have in retirement have gone missing. I did (finally) buy a CD player that’s also a TV sound bar and FM radio and also play from BlueTooth and anything USB.

    My thought was that since Garry is going to be able to hear music again — finally — it might be nice to have something on which to play music. We have a lot of CDs and it is SO much better quality than the downloaded stuff … and we must have at least a couple of hundred of them. I’s getting hard to find something on which to play them. They didn’t become obsolete. They were MADE obsolete by music companies who would rather sell each song on an album for a buck than the whole CD for $5.

    Anyway, I hope this monster works. It’s a lot bigger than I expected and much heavier, too. I have friends who have game consoles. Most of them got bored with games pretty quickly. Maybe it’s the noise. They are so awfully LOUD. .

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    1. The games I have are all old ones…quieter, slower and needing a bit of brain power. I don’t watch TV, and rarely watch movies, so an hour or two of games now and then will make a nice change. I’m not likely to become an obsessive gamer…and I do live alone, so as this thing also does CDs , DVD and Blu ray, it will come in handy. My music system broke a while back, and I too have a lot of music on CD.

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  9. My mom’s retired, but I got her into World Of Warcraft YEARS ago. We were going to play together over her Spring Break and then she got too far ahead of me.

    She can’t join the Tuesday night knitting group because that’s raid night.

    Gamers can be any age!

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      1. I grew up listening to the sounds of my nintendo being played after my bedtime by my mom.

        Before my divorce, my mom tried to give me an ultimatum – rejoin World of Warcraft or give her a grandbaby. One’s an 18 year commitment, the other’s for life. 😛

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  10. This is definitely the story for me, too. And I wish others could fully understand. It takes bravery to let go, and wisdom to see that the unencumbered youth have the minds and hearts that adults crave. Wonderful post, Sue!

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  11. …Well Mae West ‘said it all’ (and long before the age of Mary Whitehouse and/or The British Board of Film Censors etc.) : ‘You’re only as old as the man you feel’ – so Vive le Sporte Sue (no matter what game you play)! Great post One can only wonder what the NEXT generation of digital entertainment will be. Meanwhile I stick with my stack of CDs,cassettes, Vinyl (hooray, it’s being resurrected!)and yea, even Shellac! (still got my old wind-up too!)And what would I do without my Amstrad WPC? LOL

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