I’m not just talking about the act of sitting in one place while they make up these impossible rules and expect you to toe the line. It’s bad enough that you have to be ordered around by them when they never want to listen to anything you say in the first place. Hmph! Can I hear an ‘Amen’?
No, I am referring to conscious play time when you can just unwind, let go and be a kid again and participate in the joy of being immersed in play for the sheer joy of it and nothing else. I watch my husband with Gy and it’s incredible how he can instantly transform from this ‘dad’ figure who tells her that she should behave, and become a kid teasing Gy relentlessly, playing with her until she dissolves in tears or giggles. Oh yes, there’s plenty of both.
What this also tells me is that she has this insatiable desire to share her world with me. She is an only child and while there are days when she does miss having a sibling, she is mostly a very self-sufficient child. She reads (a lot!), plays by herself and keeps herself occupied.
So, there are times of the day when she just wants to spend time with me, letting her hair down and do nothing but meaningless play. And I comply. We find joy in the silliest of things: bouncing a balloon off a wall, seeing who can throw a crazy ball the farthest, sitting down to a tea party attended by teddy bears and Lego figures (who look a tad creepy!), allowing soap bubbles to catch the light of the setting sun or maybe a game of cards that shows who can win better at a game of rummy!
It’s energising, maddening, uplifting and frustrating all at once to play with a kid. I’ll admit that at times I am not wholly involved. There’s something in the back of my mind wondering if I’ve replied to that last e-mail or scheduled another blog post but I am learning to let go more these days. Because, we need to play. We do.
Why do we need to play?
* It releases endorphins- those feel-good chemicals- that make you feel happier.
* It wards off depression and anxiety.
* It’s probably the best way to give thanks for being alive.
* Most of all, it makes you realise that there are some things worth making time for.
You don’t really need me to tell you any of this, of course. You’d know it when you make time to play.
There’s a part of me that is almost always Mom. It needs to be that way, since I have a duty towards my child. It’s my role to tell her when she goes wrong, dole out support when she wants advice or maybe just offer a hug to soothe those terrible days when she’s had a bitter fight with her best friend.
But as I watch her grow from this playful bundle of scrumptious cuteness (okay, I’m biased) into a young woman with a firm head on her shoulders, I’m reminded of the need to let go ever so often and spend more time with the child within my rigid, structured persona.
The child in us doesn’t need to stop existing. There’s no better way than play to ensure that.