Children’s play is like our work, or so I have been told. Play is how a child expresses his or her individuality and explores his personality. I remember well when I was young my mother was obsessed with dolls. She loved everything about them and always hoped she would have a girl to share her hobby with. Unfortunately, I hated dolls. I loathed Barbies and the color pink. I loved any type of book I could get my hands on, roller skating, ice skating, tennis and all of my stuffed animals. One birthday, she surprised me with a doll carriage. I pretended to like it and went outside and cried. It was a piece of equipment I had no use for. My dad stepped in and told my mother to stop making me into something I wasn’t and to go out and get me a pair of ice skates I wanted. Poor mom. Ended up my brother liked the carriage better than me and strolled all his Star Wars dolls around. He denies it until this day but I was there and speak the truth.
My children have blossomed and now take play very seriously. They love their stuffed animals and can continuously be overheard using voices and creating dramas. This morning, I came out to find over 50 animals piled high on my couch. They were naked, yet again. They said they were the naked super-heros out to save the world and rescue all the animals from evil. And I still keep wondering when they are going to keep on their clothes.
I also notice how my oldest dominates playtime. He is the alpha male and in charge of the games. Joshie usually follows along happily, but when he bucks the system my oldest tries to nib the rebellion in the bud. Joshie will pick his battles and just disengage and refuse to play. That drives the older one batty, but I discovered after a little while of playing by himself, he is all too happy to compromise for a playmate.
Last week, my husband and I were in the throes of watching The Bachelorette, one of my guilty pleasures. It was very quiet in their room (warning sign) so on a commercial my husband went to check on them. I heard his baffled roar echoing through the house. When I joined him in the room, they had a pile of their stuffed animals in a heap, a toddler pair of scissors, and a bundle of fur strewn over the carpet. Proudly, they announced they were playing barber and had given everyone haircuts. All of the fuzzy monkey hair now gone, the animals seemed frozen in a state of surprise with their baldness. Joshie informed me that their hair would grow back soon. Jake said he did it so he can see their faces more clearly. Echoes of my mother flew forth: “You would look so nice if you would just cut your hair so I can see your face!”
Ah, playtime. Important for adults too. My husband used to love Sony Playstation until the kids came and sucked up his time. Now he looks longingly at dirt bikes and older motorcycles and wonders if we will ever have enough money so he can re-visit his youth and go riding. And me? I love to read and write – that is my favorite form of playtime. What I have noticed lately is the lack of playtime I see in my writing, and I have moved forward to correct this. I’ve been reading many blogs lately about the importance of the work itself and less attachment to publicity, blogging, marketing, and worrying about success. I think writers have it harder today than ever. Yes, there is much more information available to help us market our books, but I think we are in overload status. When I was writing years ago, it was just about the story. There were conferences, networking and the hardcopy of Writer’s Market to push us forward. Now, the story is so diluted with other factors it’s easy to write without any fun. And a writer continuously writing without fun is a writer that stops writing.
I enjoy my blog, actually, this is my playtime. And I am going back to core principles and am beginning to have fun again. I revisted my novella and cut out the last chapter that was technically good but written into a corner. I started the scene where I thought I would be interested, and things started working. I wrote 14 pages in two hours – the most productive I have been in a long time.
So, cheers to playtime. It should never be overrated or underestimated, no matter what age group we are in.