December 2, 2012

Sharing Memories (Week 49): Toddler Playtime!

Sharing Memories Week 49: Toddler Playtime
Welcome to Week 49 of our 52 weeks of Sharing Memories - A Genealogy Journey for 2012.   I hope you'll join us and share your memoirs and childhood memories for your descendants.

If you are just joining us, please take a peek at our earlier prompts (There are over 150!) that will help you write your stories. Just click on the Sharing Memories tab at the top of Olive Tree Genealogy blog. You can jump in at any time and you can skip topics and prompts that you don't like. There are no rules, it's all about getting your stories and memories down on paper. The prompts are here as a guide to help if you are stuck for ideas.

The prompt for this week is playtime. That's right - playtime. When you were a toddler how and where did you play? Did your mom put you in a playpen? Outside in a fenced-in yard? Did she take you to the local park and sit and watch you play? What do you remember of your toddler days?

My friends are horrified when I tell them what my mom did. But I honestly don't think it was a bad method for her to be sure I was safe! When I was little (before the age of 5 or 6) she tied a rope around my waist and attached the other end to a cinder block, then put me out in our front yard.

Our front yard was mostly dirt and weeds but I didn't mind. I had one toy - an old tin truck that belonged to my brothers - and I loved making roads and "mountains" for that truck to drive on.

Since my mother wasn't about to come out and watch me play, or take me to the nearby park, the cinder block and rope method worked to keep me safe. I couldn't get out on the road and I couldn't wander off. Problem solved! I'm pretty sure nowadays if we saw a young child tied to a cinder block in a weed-filled yard we'd call Children's Aid. But honestly I don't think it was a terrible thing for her to do!

I know she put a playpen in the yard and put me in it when I was much younger but I don't have a memory of that. I've seen pictures and that's how I know that was her way of keeping me safe at a really young age. No one seems to use playpens anymore but I personally think they're pretty handy at times! 

I confess that when my youngest son was 2 years old, we stayed at a cottage on an island on Georgian Bay. To keep him safe outside I tied a rope to a harness which he wore. The loose end was fastened to a large rock which he was not strong enough to move.

I sat with him of course, he was never left outside alone, but the rope and harness gave him freedom that wasn't possible otherwise. I would have been too worried that he'd slip and fall into the Bay otherwise, and wearing a life jacket would have been very uncomfortable for him.

So I'm not traumatized by my rope wearing toddler days. What are your memories of toddler playtime?


  1. I had to laugh because I was tethered too. My mother tied me with a rope to the playpen while she and my father worked on building the house.

  2. I was also protected by a harness and long rope. My rope was tied around the clothesline, so I could run back and forth the length of the clothesline, plus my rope. The danger of my getting out of the yard was the railroad track that was about 5' from the gate. This same yard was mostly dirt with some grass patches, but the thing I remember best was all the lilac bushes. Today, that is still my favorite flower.

  3. Now I've heard everything! Tied to a cinderblock. I've known people who harness their kids, and the good thing is it keeps the child alive. We gave our daughter a back-yard round expandable wooden fence, 6 feet across, when she was three. We put a toy farmhouse with animals in there. I took the labor-intensive method of watching her constantly. When she had an "escape," she always ran for the busy road in front of her house, but I was always faster than she was. Distraction with more toys! Finally, she got over her need to run. She got older, that's all.

  4. I don't think my Mom ever tethered me when I was playing outside as a toddler, because we had a small, fenced yard. I'd play by myself or with my baby sister. Our Mom could see us from the living room window (we lived in a basement apt) and since my grandparents lived above us, so they'd keep an eye on us, as well.