January 11, 2011
Over the weekend, while getting the chores done downstairs, I went upstairs to find laundry - clean and dirty - strewn everywhere. There was also a pillow on the ground. My daughter stood, with each foot planted firmly a reusable shopping bag, with a broom in her hand. "What are you doing?!?", my voice elevated and stern. "I have to keep away from the hot lava, and I am rowing to go to the bathroom."
Part of me wanted to scold her and tell her to fold up the clothes, put my shopping bags where they should be by the door, and bring me my broom. Another part of me knew exactly what her strategy was. I used to play hot lava too, throwing all the couch cushions on the ground and hopping from one to another. Anyone who touched the ground was "dead."
A NYTimes article over the weekend talked about how many of our children today - while they can figure out how to work the newest iPhone app - can't figure out how to get a game of stickball going in the neighborhood. Kids are unlearning how to play, spending less time outside at playgrounds, not given recess time at school, engaged in structured sports and other extracurricular activities under tight schedules. Parents are less willing to allow chaos and disorder in the house, more stressed and unwilling to handle kids' volume when playing.
I don't want my kids to forget how to play. I want to encourage them to make fun out of white paper, an adventure out of thin air, and - sigh! - a fort out of all our blankets and furniture. I want to hear inspiring stories of play at your house. Do you feel like your kids sometimes show signs of having forgotten how to play ("mama, I'm bored!"... it happens to us!)? Are you irritated by the side effects of the most fanciful of play (holy mess, Batman!)? Or, do you maybe make a game out of the clean-up itself?