We saw children building playhouses made from whatever materials they could find like banana leaves for roof, old straw sacks and tarpaulins for walls, cardboards for flooring, with bamboo sticks and tree branches holding the house together. Inside, they furnished their playhouse with whatever pieces of junk (like old tires, broken plastic stools, rusty biscuit tins, etc) that they have obviously salvaged from a dump somewhere. They also pretended to prepare a meal out of mud, some leaves and flowers. They did assure us they won’t eat the concoction for real! It was such a pretty sight to see such ingenuity among these children in Talakag that we thought were long gone what with the advent of mobile phones, electronic games, TVs, etc.
The beauty of playing house is that the children can afford to make mistakes and start all over again and to them it is still fun. When they've had enough at the end of the day they can always run to the comforts of their own home and back to the real world with Mum and Dad.
We used to play house ourselves when we were children. We remember it well that no playhouse is complete without play acting. Just like us a long, long time ago, these children get to play roles where one would be the Dad, one the Mum while others would be the children and neighbours, etc and interact like grown-ups. Without realising, they are learning how to run a house and some survival skills as well. This simple summer activity of make believe will certainly help prepare them for what they will become in the future. They will learn (by trial and error) the art of planning, organising, creativity and teamwork in building not only their playhouses but their characters and relationships with others too. Of course, there will be leaders and followers, there will be a bad apple or two (but that’s life) and most of all some friendship will be forged that will last long after the summer is gone.
School starts again next week and these children will leave this summer behind. No doubt that the playhouses they have built will be abandoned and rot in time but the memories will stay. Let’s hope they will learn something new at school and (just maybe) come next summer, they will build or rebuild their playhouses again but with better designs and materials. Perhaps there will be a reversal of roles too – someone else could play Mum or Dad for a change and, of course, another one gets to be the leader or that new kid on the block might even join in.