Playing Daisy

When I was five years old, I ventured off to kindergarten.  I don’t recall being upset or nervous about going to school.  I think I was ready to leave my mom for at least half the day. It was an adventure that I was completely ready for. In kindergarten, the play centres were the most fun part. Funny enough, the “house” centre was the most subscribed.  Everyone wanted to play in the house and “play house” and I very rarely got to play in that area. So, my friends and I made up our own play centre.  It was the mat at the front door of the classroom. It was huge (it seemed huge, but we were only five, so it could have been smaller). It’s just like the kind you see at front entrances of malls. We pretended that it was the General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard.  Maggie and I took turns being Daisy Duke sans booty shorts. Jeff was Bo and Jason was Luke. We loved playing The Dukes of Hazzard and would create our own stories.

If I could look back on that time, I am sure the stories were wildly chaotic and had no plot, but we were using our minds and creating our own worlds. Often, Boss Hog was on our tail and everyone could hear squealing sounds coming from the mat as we peeled out of the fictitious parking spot that our General Lee was in. We’d often do that epic jump that Bo and Luke do in their car that started off every episode...well in our minds anyway. Soon, “playing house” seemed trivial. We didn’t even fight for a space in the house. After all, we were free on the outside. 

It only took a few weeks for the other kids to notice how much fun we were having and they wanted to take a spin in the General Lee.  To be honest, Jeff, Jason, Maggie and I were not amiable to give up our play space. We created it and in our minds it belonged to us. That mat represented a whole other world and we were a little miffed that our creation would have to be shared with others.

Our teacher, Miss Thompson, asked if we would let other kids play with us and role play characters from the show. We reluctantly agreed and at times the mat was so full that it wasn't as much fun anymore. It was like standing on a bus during peak travel times and not having a choice but to share your space with others. Somehow our fun had been tainted by all the hands that touched it.

It was no longer ours.

Looking over at the house centre, it was empty and unloved. What a dynamic shift in mentality for these five year olds. Playing parents with children seemed less fun than playing young adults with no real responsibilities. 

At some point, I was getting irritated with sharing my game and having to make up characters that weren't a part of the show to begin with because the TV show didn’t have enough female characters for all of us girls to play together, so I went back to playing house all the while yearning to be Daisy Duke again. 

~Jennifer Ward

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