Luke and I entertained ourselves with Play-Doh the other day while Matthew was at his swim lesson. Â And oh, there is no smell more evocative than the Play-Doh smell. Â You pry the lid off that plastic jar, and you’re suddenly catapulted back in time to your own childhood. Â I was trying to think of adjectives to describe the smell of the stuff, but I literally couldn’t; Â it’s so utterly unique. Â One little whiff, and just like that, I’m a kid again.
It’s the same with the actual feel of the Play-Doh. Â I break off a chunk, spin it rapidly between the palms of my hands, and make it as close to a perfect sphere as I can. Â At other times, I pull it in two directions and it stretches and then breaks apart suddenly in the center, leaving mealy edges, just as it used to all those years ago. Â I press it flat with the heel of my hand, and see the criscrossing lines of my skin, probably the same pattern that was left on the Play-Doh of my childhood. Â There’s something comforting in knowing that even though the colors become more fluorescent and the accessories become more sophisticated, the Play-Doh experience doesn’t really change all that much over the years.
What is different this time? Â This time, I’m working alongside a small boy, who gravely pulls the soft clay out of the jar little bit by little bit. Â He packs it together into a mold shaped like a dump truck. Â He takes the penguin cutout I’ve made and has it drive the truck, a big smile on his face. Â He doesn’t care if the colors get all mixed up. Â To be honest, neither do I.
Because there is something intensely therapeutic about doing something you loved as a child when you are a tired old adult. Â And it’s even better when there’s a little builder next to you, intent on his own creative discoveries, building his own set of memories.