Here’s another one of the pieces of writing I offered to MomSense magazine for publication that they declined. I had taken this one to a critique group where it was pointed out that there is nothing very original going on here, and my message has been offered up already a million times. It’s true, I haven’t thought of a more original way of saying this yet, but I think the writing itself is decent.
Why Not Play?
The joy of play is that it is all about the heart and not so much about the head. It means following whatever line of thinking comes up, even if it is silly, making it up as you go. Play can be blowing bubbles, chasing after them, watching them land and then seeing how they burst. This is the great thing. It is about some inner you telling you what to do because it feels good. It feels good because it is a way to explore the world, as we humans are wont, without taking on the burden of thinking about it too hard. Chasing bubbles means running, which for a little one is a discovery in itself. Chasing bubbles means finding them rolling and bobbing with the wind, rarely losing their shape, discovering how bubbles are. Chasing bubbles means discovering the feel of the earth under foot, the sun on your skin and the wind in your hair. Chasing bubbles might mean discovering what it is to feel free which, who knows, could come in handy later in life.
But play requires trust. Trust on your part that what your child’s play is, be it talking to dolls or coloring outside the lines, is good. It means trusting that your child’s ideas, although different than yours, or possibly different than everyone elses, are good. It means trusting that your child can direct himself to do things you do not understand, or want, and therefore requiring you to follow instead of lead. If it does not hurt anyone or anything and your child wants to do it, why not foster the idea? Let your child show you who he is. Let him learn that his ideas are valuable. Foster the notion that what he thinks of is good enough to try, even if you doubt it, and in that process teach him to value himself and his ideas as you do. If chasing bubbles ultimately leads to jumping in puddles, does it matter that clothes get muddy and wet? Let play happen and throw clothes in the wash. After all, playing is a child’s job. It is to discover, to learn, to explore and to find out what this world she has been born into is all about, and what she can do in it. It is in a child’s nature to let loose the mind and to engage the heart. So let her discover what gifts God has given that she might someday share them with the world, be they modest or grand. Let your children invite you into the discovery, into the joie de vivre, into the freedom of play and go ahead and chase bubbles, too.