I know very little about playfulness, and I think it is because there are no grandchildren running around my house.
Kids, especially the ones removed from our constant supervision, open us to play. They know how to have fun without planning or structure. They are hardwired to explore, discover, create, laugh, cry, run, experiment, question. And they drag us along with them as they make up rules, find new paths, seek answers, and delight in unexpected results.
They don’t know there might be correct ways to do things, or final answers that are wanted. They simply allow their minds and bodies to meander, accepting whatever comes along.
Recently I read a book suggesting we take an hour each week to play, by ourselves…just play. The author believed that this ‘play time’ would get our artistic juices perculating and help us be more crreative.
I failed this assignment. Try as I might, I didn’t know how to play. I didn’t know what to do for fun, especially alone.
As a child, I played with my sisters and the kids next door and from down the street. We played tag, chased each other, caught balls, rode bikes, skated, drew pictures, harrassed our parents and our neighbors, made noise, and laughed hilariously.
We strung string between our houses with a can on each end, making a primitive telephone that, of course, didn’t work. But if we yelled loud enough we could hear one another and pretend we were successful.
Clothes line tents were biggies, back in the day. We used old blankets, as I recall they were stamped with ‘Army’ or ‘Navy’ , smelled old and were drab green in color. We also dragged out some quilts and somehow constructed a hideaway that we considered safe and secret, although they were in full view of anyone who stepped out in the backyard.
Oh, and we had a metal swing set, that would be considered hazardous in today’s world. It had two swings, and bars that came out on each end of the structure that we could hang from, climb on, fall off of, and delightfully entertain ourselves.
And our bikes led us to lands beyond our yards. We could go over a block, or even 2. We could pile 2 or 3 kids on a bike and pump like crazy to stay upright and attempt to see around the person on the handlebars, hoping we didn’t run into something or someone.
Yep, as a kid, it seemed to be easy to play, even if we hurt ourselves. We fell, we tumbled, we skinned ourselves, we bled a bit, we cried, we got up, and went right on playing…’cause that’s what kids do. They play.
Hum, guess I’ll run outside and find a park with a swing and see how high I can go. Can I go over the top? Maybe, if I let myself play.