Thursday, June 23, 2011


3 a : recreational activity; especially : the spontaneous activity of children

A girl flits into the room wearing a yellow Belle dress, purple cheetah print high heels and pink sunglasses with fur at the corners.  Her sister tears apart teal and silver duct tape, affixes it to a shoe box and creates a seascape.  My girls know how to play.

A doll elevator
The doll and her ladybug enter the elevator
The elevator in action

Cardboard and aluminum foil choker

Getting in character
Over the last few days, B has made a child's elevator, a doll elevator and a goth metal stud choker, amongst other things.  If I'm lamenting an over-scheduled summer with ballet and piano virtually every weekday, my girls do not seem to be suffering for it.  Instead, they are making the most of their downtime, using it to create, playact and read.  There's a definite difference in the ways each girl plays (K revels in imaginary worlds, B creates) and a noticeable drop off in A's willingness to play.  She far prefers reading to crafting, dressing up or playacting.

Yet even tween aged A came home from her first lock in this morning excited about the game night. One of the things she thought noteworthy?  That they played a spy game in the church sanctuary.  "Yes, this space is sacred," A was told, "but no more sacred than many other spaces.  Just don't break anything."  What this wise youth minister gets is that play is sacred, too.  A book I'm reading puts it this way:

Play keeps us attached to the sacred, the imaginary, the human.  We grow bigger, become larger entities, in the act of play.  We become creators more than creatures.

I've learned from watching my children play.  Play doesn't come natural to me.  It's something I need to learn to allow myself to do, need to train myself to want.  I take life far too seriously.  But I've been playing in my own way over the last week:

Is summer fun for you?  Are you watching your children play?  Are you making time to play? Play isn't just for children, you know.

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