The definition of play is – an exercise or activity for amusement or creativity, fun or jest as opposed to seriousness, the playing, action or conduct of a game, the manner or style of playing or doing something.
I’ve been thinking about the concept of play as an adult. What does it look like to play? As a child most of the free time we had been engaged in play. As a child play might consist of games such as Hide and Seek, Kick the Can, Mother May I, What Time is it Mr. Wolf, and Red Light Green Light. It might be in lightly competitive games like Horse Shoes, church picnic games like sack races, the three-legged race and the always popular and sometimes messy egg toss. I know as a child the kids in the neighborhood where we lived explored the empty lots behind our row houses, we looked for tadpoles and frogs, crickets and many other interesting creatures, we played pretend, we drew large hopscotchs on the back lane cement, we played marbles and Jacks. Life was fun, and stress only came in the form of chores at home or in tests at school, because they weren’t fun. When my kids were little, fun was a bit different, there was still a lot of play time outdoors with siblings, but neighborhood kids didn’t get to play together without supervision. We didn’t trust the neighbors as much, we as adults were way more suspicious of our neighbors and so we were scared that our kids would be hurt. There seemed to be so much in the news of child abductions, murder, sexual crimes and pedophiles it was scary. As adults we became hyperaware of what our kids were doing.
As my kids grew older, into their preteens and teenage years, play became video games and internet searches and extracurricular clubs. I know that as a mom, I was one of those helicopter parents. I hovered around them way too much. I remember on many occasions that Cam had to tell me to stop worrying and give them more freedom. He told me to let them be kids. I wanted to be able to see them at all times, this extended into their middle teen years 15-16. I remember that when Maddy was 13, I still didn’t let her ride her bike more than a block from me, I did this so that I could watch her all the time. I thought that I was being a good parent and was keeping her safe by being hyper vigilant. I stifled my kids play, and exploration, discovery and learning to be independent time. Luckily they learned those things in spite of me, however, I think that it was a harder lesson for them, learned later than when I did as a kid.
I watch kids now a days, and I don’t see a lot of kids outside playing in my neighborhood. I know there are a lot of kids around because I see them walking to school, the school is right behind our house. I wonder what their fun, or play looks like now. I hear and have observed through my teens, now young adults that most play happens indoors, in the form of video games and competitive sports. I might be wrong, I don’t have little kids living full-time in my house anymore. I have Paxton my 3-year-old grandson, but I only see him occasionally, so I don’t observe his everyday play. When he comes over he wants to play with me, his papa, and his aunties. Most often that play is all about racing his toy cars, playing with and fighting monsters with foam swords, coloring pictures, and watching movies. I love to observe his mind working and learning during his playing, I see things differently through watching him as opposed to watching my kids, there is some distance, I am not his main caregiver. Watching him is fun :).
We learned by playing as a child. I believe that we still learn by play. Play might look different as an adult. Our choice of toys change. My kids love playing board games together, they love to go to movies. Each of them have a hobby that gives them enjoyment and pleasure. Most of my girls love reading for recreation, some of them love the exploration of art and creative writing. One loves the creativity of cooking. Two love experimenting with makeup, both the wildly beautiful and the beauty makeup that is considered more normal and acceptable.
I know because I was their main teacher, that my girls learned best by having fun, hands on activities instead of reading text in a book or writing notes. Maddy learned her math facts best if I could put it to music somehow. Jaydyn learned by doing something active. Steph would have been considered a wonderful student, because she learned by reading and listening. Each kid needed a different way to learn the same things. They all learned best though by doing something fun and interesting to them. They are still avid learners, I think because learning was fun and usually about something they found interesting.
As an adult I have forgotten what it means to play. Just now as I am starting to have my children leave the nest, I am starting to explore what play would look like to me. I see happening in society as whole as well in the adult coloring book craze. I have joined this type of play, it speaks to my creative bent. I have been slowly allowing myself the freedom of having fun, and I realize now that I crave it. I think I killed it within me so long, that now, that is what I want to spend all my day doing. Sometimes I resent the time I need to spend elsewhere. I would love to spend all my time emersed in art and creative endeavors. This is where I feel God the most. This is where He can reach my heart the best. He created me with a very strong creative bent, and all that goes with it. I have been pretty creative throughout my life, but it has always been because of something, a gift, a craft show, a lesson taught to others, never just because. I am feeling selfish because, I want to explore my creative bent just because. I want to be able to allow myself to “fail”, to struggle to learn a new way of expression in art form. I would love to join others in creative exploration, I would love to learn something new from someone else, to be able to admit that I don’t know everything and need others to show me how to do something new. I have always needed perfection in my art, and if I couldn’t do something perfect, I wouldn’t try to do it. My art was something I was good at, and so because I thought it was the only thing I was good at, I let it define me and I didn’t want to fail. As I am opening myself up lately, I have felt that there is freedom in letting myself fail once in a while. I know that we all do at times. God knows that too, that is why Jesus came to rescue us. 🙂 I am coming to realize that I don’t need to live under the standard of perfection and if someone else doesn’t like it too bad. There is freedom in that, if you are also careful in not hurting someone else in that freedom.
Now as a grown woman, a grandma, I am giving me permission to explore like a child who I really am and what that means in every aspect of my life, and especially what play is for me. For everyone it will be different for God is creative and so He gives everyone different skills and bents. What is fun for me, may be “not fun” for someone else. I am not looking for acceptance for my creative endeavors. I may share some of them with others, or I may not, It depends on what I feel compelled by God to share. He may need me to be completely transparent, because my fear is of someone rejecting what I have to offer. He may want this to be something that is only between Him and I. I am not sure what this will look like. I am excited and apprehensive about this new journey that God has put me on. Maybe there are others I am to join in this, I want to learn new things, and I want to be able to teach what I know. I will see what this looks like over time, but right now there are just questions and a trust that my questions will be answered over time. I am learning to trust my Creator. 🙂
What does play mean for you, I am interested. 🙂 Let me know.
I am facinated by graffiti and street art, I would love to learn how to do this. I love seeing the graffiti on the trains, some of it is so beautiful.