I want to start by explaining a little bit my background. I grew up in Costa Rica in a very small town called Grecia. My parents own a bakery and I have one older brother. I had a very peaceful and happy childhood and I am very grateful for the way that my parents raced me, however I would like to point out some characteristics that are important for explaining the “object” that I have chosen.
Growing up in a Latin American country meant that the gender roles where extremely marked, and specially in my house since we are all Catholics and my parents believe in separating the roles of women and men. I remember that I used to play with dolls and Barbies a lot and I used to love it. My brother used to have a lot of fun toys (he still has his room full with actions figures, comics and board games) and I liked playing with him with little cars and doing races, I don’t remember however that my parents ever encouraged me to play with my brother’s toys.
I remember also that I used to play “housemaid” or as we called in Spanish “casita” which means little house. I liked to pretend that I was cooking and cleaning the house, and taking care of the children, which I am not saying it is a bad thing, however now as an adult I wish those stereotypes were not imposed on me since a very young age.
My mom dedicated a lot of time to us because she used to take the afternoons off the bakery and I will always be grateful for the amount of time that she dedicated to making me and my brother into happy, healthy and loving kids.
Following the Latin American family stereotype, I have a big family and a lot of cousins, all of us from similar ages. I used to spend a lot of time with my younger female cousin and we would play tirelessly for hours and my brother used to spend a lot of time with my male cousin. During the weekends, my other two cousins would come to my hometown and we would form a group of 6 children from similar ages.
My uncles lived in a property with a shared garden with my parents bakery and my grandparents house, so it was all like a big community of play and family and that is the “object” that I want to talk about in this blog: “The Garden”.
In the garden we could play for hors, it was the point of reunion for me and my cousins, the neighbors, the cousins of my cousins and many other kids. It was a place where we could reimagine the word, play without toys but instead create our own toys. For example, I remember when we “baked” chocolate cakes made out of mud. Another game that we used to love was “Mango war”, in the garden there were a lot of mango trees, in January the mangos started to grow but very tiny mangos would come off the tree so me and my cousins would collect them and then split them in half, we would make teams (usually boys versus girls) and we would create our own fortresses and start battling agains each other by trowing the little mangos.
The ultimate garden game that we used to love was Hide and seek. We had to be very creative because we all knew every inch of the garden, my oldest cousin would put green clothes and hide on a tree so that nobody could recognize him. The best part of playing in the garden was that we could let our imagination fly, there were no roles imposed and we could play together for hours, our age didn’t matter, our gender didn’t matter either, we just enjoyed the time together and explored the nature as a part of our up-growing.
The more evocative part of “The Garden” is that I remember that in the middle of the afternoon my grandma (who already passed away) would call us for some refreshments and sharing time with her is one of the memories that I treasure the most.