Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Nostalgic Wistfulness of Wanting a Recess....

It's only a few days shy of officially being Spring but, for all intents and purposes, at the moment, here in our corner of the Midwest, it already is Spring. Even though it's supposed to snow a little early next week, no amount of snow, no matter how much I love it, can stop the progress that is the transition from Winter to Spring. The crocuses are blooming, the daffodils are nearly there. It's warm outside... breezy and the smell of warmer days yet to come scents the air.

I'm feeling poetic, obviously. This morning, at work, our office was freezing. Outside, it was chilly, a nip of frost to the early morning air. Even though we're supposed to accept Daylight Savings Time, I don't accept it. To my body and my circadian rhythms, it's still the same time as it was a week ago. Just because the government stipulates we move our clocks forward, doesn't mean my natural sleep cycle will concur. Thus, when I get to work at 7:30 a.m., my body AND my brain knows it's only really 6:30 a.m. It also doesn't help that our phones, on a centralized network, somehow revert back every night so that they tell us the real time, not the phony "Daylight Savings Time." So when I get in the office at "7:30" a.m., my clock even tells me it's 6:30 a.m.

It's no wonder it's chilly in the morning. It's practically night when I have to get up at the moment.

Still, by afternoon, the air warmed up and our office did too. One of my coworkers opened up the door to the fire escape and let the balmy, fresh, Spring-scented air flow in. It made me happy, particularly as I'm in the best position in our area to feel the air as it blows in; directly in its entryway.

As the afternoon wore on and the fresh air revived us, the quiet began to be punctuated by the sounds of screaming voices. They were happy screaming voices, those of children who are on recess.

There's a daycare next door to our office park. I think it's a kindergarten. Every afternoon when the weather permits, the kids go outside to play.

In our office, it spurned conversations about the nostalgic, long-forgotten joy of recess. There were jokes about milk and cookies, naps and being able to run around in the sunshine. Yet beyond the jokes, there was always a wistful hint of days gone by.

I think we all wish that recess would continue beyond the school days. In England, we called it 'playtime' rather than recess. For me, as a shy, insecure child, recess was either fun- if I had a friend to spend it with- or it was a dark, dismal place in which I had to find a way to spend 15-20 minutes alone without attracting the attention of the bullies.

It wasn't that I didn't have friends. It was just that sometimes, it was far more appealing to take a book and go sit on the wall and read, avoiding the games of football (or, to my American readers, soccer), hopscotch and 'it'. I never minded playing 'it'. I think it's called 'Tag' over here. Basically, you run around chasing the other kids who are playing and if you touched them, they were' it' and you then had to run away to avoid being double 'it-d'.

When we played 'it', I was part of a team. Even back then, the politics of the playground were a natural deterrant in being able to make friends. There was always some pariah, someone who'd done something as awful as telling a teacher on a troublemaker or someone who had an 'accident' in the cloakroom.

Still, there were games that involved everyone, pariah or not. Games like 'Red Rover' where it was important to have as many players as possible. I always loved 'Red Rover'. Ok, so it was slightly violent and not terribly tame and, well, yes, kids did break bones playing it but it was a full-on, team-based, playground competition. Everyone played, not everyone won.

When I heard the sounds of the kids running around today, punctuating the spring air, I had flashbacks to games of Red Rover. And, naturally, I had to picture playing the same game with my current coworkers. It was an amusing, if slightly barbaric, picture.

I like the idea of having a recess, of being able to get away from our desks to run around the car park, arms flapping like wings and having a good scream of "AAAAAHOOOOOOOOOGAHHHHHHHH!" I think it would be fantastic stress relief.

I also admit, even before we started hearing the sounds of recess, I've often pictured myself running around the building, arms outstretched like wings screaming "AAOOOGAHHH!". Personally, I think if we got to do that, there'd be far less tension and far less need for optimistic pictures in the bathrooms.

Of course, I don't do it. While the idea appeals, the reality does rear its ugly head; My coworkers would probably think I was nuts. They already suspect it, having it confirmed might be a tad too much.

Nevertheless, when I hear the sounds of children running wild, enjoying the freedom of a life without adult responsibilities, part of me longs to join them. I do wish we had recesses where it was perfectly ok to run around like a loon to expend our energies. We do get work breaks but they're not quite the same. On those, we get to drink coffee, leave our desks to make a phone call even, gasp, attempt to make a run to the Target across the road in 15 minutes or less.

Yet we never take time to treasure the fact that a break is, in fact, a break from life. Perhaps we should all run around pretending we have wings and screaming or squealing or just admitting that we're enjoying ourselves.

That's the thing with kids, you see. They never have to stop and say, 'wait, does this count as my break? Oh dear, what if I'm a minute late? Will anyone see? Oh, crap, there's no I have to make coffee and that will take a while. If I wait for the coffee to brew, is that my break? Or is it my break when so-and-so comes to ask me a work question and we end up chatting about her kids/my puppies?"

You get the idea. Perhaps if we called it recess and we all got to go outside and run around; I bet things would be different then.

Of course, we might also make a run for it, escaping into our cars and running off into the freedom of a non-working delusion. That's the thing with being a kid. They can't drive. To them, a recess is the span of the playground into which they're released. For us, the whole world is our playground or, more realistically, a vast expanse of places to run errands and 'get things done.'

Even if we had recess, we'd probably find ways to avoid it.

Still, I like the idea of it, don't you?

Happy Friday!

1 comment:

Rain Dancer said...

I LOVE the idea! I say on the next warm sunshiny day we go out in the parking lot and play a game of Red Rover...or maybe a game of Tag. I bet others would join in...and those who are too grown up to join in can just sit back and watch and secretly wish they could let loose and have some fun!