Monday, January 24, 2011

Wanna Play?

It has been almost a year since I engaged in true, unadulterated, childhood type play. I remember it fondly.

I had promised the Odyssey of the Mind teams from the Boys and Girls Club a nerf-gun war. It was their end of year party..and I even promised to participate. The play began a week before. I make arrangements with parents and kids to have the Club to ourselves on a Saturday afternoon so we can take over for our war. We are forming teams (randomly) and playing some weird mix of "capture the flag" and "dying a dramatic death" if you get shot.

It feels weird to plan play. But I realize, it has been a long time since I, myself, a 40something year old adult..have engaged in imaginary play. This realization hits home a week before the big event, when one of the boys pulls me aside to share his strategy.

Miss see, I'm gonna be in stealth mode. are the decoy. R and L are the snipers..and ...I listen to the plan..for another 20 minutes. I can imagine it. I am the decoy. Ooh..I think..what if I pretend to go downstairs..and really? I'm behind the couch...How could I distract them?

and it hits me. I am already playing. I have let my mind engage in an imaginary world that is so vivid I can smell it. I have begun creating characters..I am slightly euphoric. I am beginning to remember how to play.

I played A LOT as a child. Our neighborhood was the mecca of childhood play.

Starsky and Hutch?  I was always Hutch because I was blond. Bubba was Starsky. Yvonne was the Boss. Everyone else? The bad guys! We rode our big-wheels, communicated with our walkie-talkies..and we played day after day. Week after week, summer after summer. But we were not limited to Starsky and Hutch. There was also..Charlies Angels...or more original. Candy Land. Where the entire neighborhood would engage in an imaginary game where there were chocolate lakes, and candy cane trees..and an evil king that was trying to make our world (gasp) ordinary. We spent evenings looking for U.F.O's. We started a Private Eye Club. I mean..come on..we knew how to play!

When my children were young, I decided I wanted this for them. This childhood of play.

So Big B and I minimized the use of electronics...and let their imaginations run wild. They were ninjas, and oil diggers (I still have a large hole in my back yard), they were Pokemon. There were neighborhood treehouse wars and flashlight tag. In hindsight..I think this is the best gift. The gift of unstructured, childhood play..that Big B and I could have given them.

I am writing about this now...because play has been on my mind a lot lately.

I think it started as I was going through some of Bug's toys. He is only 8 months. At this time..he is happy with a box. He seems to spend a lot of time investigating blocks (when his cousins don't steal them) and investigating the teeth and eyes of various stuffed animals. This is plenty for now.

Then? We discover at a recent visit to the pediatrician that Bug is dealing with some mild hip dsyplasia. His hips can go either way (in the words of the doc.) he is being monitored. He may develop okay..or he may need a spica cast.

So then I begin to wonder? How do we keep a baby in a spica cast engaged in play? I am so not a stick the baby in front of the t.v. person.  So we start searching for ideas. We brainstorm a quick list. There are still his animals, interaction with people (a given), a wagon to transport him to the garden, maybe some bongos?, We realize the possibilities are endless. That, yes..there will be times when we may (gasp) put Winnie the Pooh on t.v. but mostly? We will let the kiddo play. We simply will have to come to him..and meet him in an imaginary world.

After I realize we have him covered in that all important play department, I quit worrying. We will know soon enough how life will unfold for him.

About this same time we see a news feature on "sports training for infants an toddlers." Big B and I watch in stunned silence. Not just at the concept..but at the numbers of families who choose to train infants and toddlers for organized sports. Wow. 'Nough said.

And then I have a dream..that I am playing in the snow. Pure play. My friend Laura (yes, and I are intentionally sliding in snow to fit through a door of an igloo. The igloo door is our target. We had a blast.

And then I woke up.

I realize that I need to find an outlet for my own need for play. I am still working on this. Because truth is? It is harder to find adults who just want to play. But it can be done.

Today the kids and I are off to my friend Brenda's ranch. Why? Because she called me last week..and when I answered the phone. You know what she said? She said. Nicole..this is Brenda..what are you doing next week.

Wanna come over and play?  You betcha!

What's for dinner?
Monday-Community Dining: baked fish, rice, salad
Tuesday-meatball sandwich casserole (or veggie burgers), sliced apples with caramel
Wednesday-herb crusted  chicken ratatouille, veggie nuggets, peach cobbler
Thursday-stuffed (spinach and cheese) pasta shells, french bread, green beans
Friday-soccer tournament? Pizza?
Saturday-soccer tournament/ Wild Game Dinner at Grace.
Sunday- grandma's house

1 comment:

Mark said...

I realize that I should play with the children but that's why I have four of them, so that they can play with each other. It's the easiest kind of parenting I know. Like you and mostly everybody, I loved being outside and playing. Now my enjoyment comes from sitting and talking with my neighbors while the kids are running around. I don't even miss playing like I don't even miss bar hopping when I was 19. Things change. And now I'm rambling. I'll stop now.
Your Friend, m.