I have to relate something that completely took me by surprise the other day. As most of you know, I have been making more of effort to get outside and play with the kids. Well what caught me off guard was just how spontaneous and uninhibited my kids (and I suspect most children) can be when engaged in creative play.
Many times I hang out with them in the yard, but rarely am I actually involved in their play, until a day or so ago. They begged me to play pretend. I finally conceded, and after first glancing around, you know to make sure no one was looking, I slipped the felt hat over my head. The kids began giggling then my son brandished his sword. all of the sudden I was in the moment and totally defending the fair princess (my daughter). After all, they had bestowed a great honor upon me, they had made me, the knight.
How many times do we watch our kids play and never actually join in, preferring to sit on the sidelines with a book, occasionally looking up and smiling? How much are we missing?
After our pretend games were over, my son wandered off and my daughter and I began to take turns jumping up and down on the culvert. No real reason, just to do it. She was so polite, taking turns and laughing. No tantrums, no hostility. I definitely liked this version of her better. when she lost interest we headed to the tree fort to play with the boys. About half-way there, my oldest calls out, “Mommey, what are you so happy about?” I looked up and shrugged, he said,” you are grinning like you are really happy about something.”
Wow, I didn’t even realize until that moment that yes, I was grinning ear to ear, just from playing, and it felt good to know the smile had come from within, where smiles should come from.
Who says that as we grow older we have to stop playing pretend, stop playing fetch with the dog, or dress up with our kids? Creative play makes you feel good and reconnects you with a part of your soul that tends to lie dormant, aching to be dusted off, the inner child inside all of us.
I’ve decided that playing a little bit everyday is just another aspect to the year of healthy living. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings! See you on the playground!