Autumn always brings to mind one of the great childhood pleasures - den building. I think it is probably the dry leaves and abundance of fallen sticks and branches, plus the idea of hibernation, that create such nostalgia. Yet, if you ask children today about building dens you'll often get a blank look in return. If they do give an enthusiastic response then the chances are that most of their creations have been made indoors or as one 10 year old told me, 'I like Monsters Den' - an online adventure game!
Not that I'm knocking the indoor hideaway in any way. I have great memories of setting up camp under the dining room table, behind the sofa or simply hanging a blanket over a clothes airer. But, there is a real Bear Grylls-type thrill in gathering natural materials, building something outside and attempting to keep out the elements. The problem is that outdoor play space is more limited now and parents are, understandably, anxious about their children's safety if they are out of sight, even for a minute. It's a shame because I think dens play an important part in childhood development. It's no coincidence that the appeal of creating such a space tends to start as a child's sense of self develops between the ages of 3 and 7. Dens in this sense become like a little home for the soul.
|(image credit: littlegreenshed)|
|Our playstands set up as a playhouse with a rainbow silk canopy|
|Where the wild things are! |
You need to ring the doorbell with a stick
|Log stools, pallet table and plastic plant pots for making mud and leaf stew!|
As well as this hideaway there is a lookout too, up in the tree outside the front of the house. It's useful for pirate games but S is most frequently found there with a book, Luna by her side.
|Cap'n S up in the lookout with first mate Luna|
Do you ever grow out of den-building, I wonder? I think all we do is recreate more sophisticated versions in our homes and gardens. I could possibly argue that my bed has become a bit of a den, especially on weekend mornings, with cushions, books, smuggled supplies of biscuits and mugs of coffee on the side table. It's definitely a place to hide away from the housework and to be honest...the responsibilities of being an adult!
Linking this post with The Theme Game at The Reading Residence