“Please excuse the mess. Children are making memories.” ~ Anonymous
What if play is less to do with obtaining new gadgets or traveling to new places, and more to do with creating fun with what’s right in front of us?
And what if play is less dependent on time, and more dependent on our capacity to use the time we have spontaneously and joyfully?
Then play is not so much about having or reaching what is “out there”, but rather our capacity to create from this very moment, see play possibilities everywhere, and be open, flexible and authentic in responding to the infinite opportunities always inviting us to “come out and play”!
The picture you see above is of two children (daughters of two friends of mine) playing with and in flour. Flour flakes are floating through air and covering the counters and floor of the all black kitchen.
It all started when they were making waffles together and one of the girls accidentally dropped some flour on the kitchen counter. She immediately had a pang of guilt and said, “I’m sorry, I’ll clean it up.” One of the mothers decided this was a good opportunity to Yes And this playful offer by picking up a bit of flour and dropping some on the counter herself. She mirrored the offer back, which is form of Yes And or playing along. The daughter knew in that moment that she was not only safe, but being invited to play. She responded accordingly, mischievously playing along with the mirror, and dropped a bit more flour on the counter, to which the mother replied by throwing some in the air.
They were soon dancing in a snowstorm of flour, slipping, sliding and laughing in their flour wonderland, with full permission to play, be silly and get messy.
This happened over eight months ago, and the girls regularly say how it was the most fun they have ever had. And every time they bake together the girls bring up the story of the day the kitchen turned white!
Families that play together stay together
It’s beautiful to know that perhaps we don’t need much to create a lasting, positive impact in our children’s lives. Children value the simplicity of play and feel acknowledged and connected to their family when everyone plays together. By playing with children we show our love for them and validate their spirit. We make being authentic, spontaneous and free a safe experience. In the process we remember these qualities ourselves, and create powerful memories for everyone.
“It is a happy talent to know how to play.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Simple play requires adults to both initiate playfulness in the everyday moments of life, and follow the lead of children and play in their world for a while. We need to be flexible and open in responding to the unexpected, and willing to see and initiate play possibilities our children can’t see.
Find playful possibilities when doing dishes, driving the car or buying groceries. The more we practice playing in the simplicity of here and now, the more we will see how every moment is lived in Life’s grand playground.
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I just want to share with you a little story about my day after I read the article, Flour Play. I was out in the yard in the rain with my 9 year old daughter, she begged me to come out and look how high she had climbed a tree to retrieve a stuffy that had been stuck up there for months. I listened to her tell me how she got up the tree, how she felt scared but kept going and how proud of herself she was that she had done this. She then, in her excitement picked up a clump of freshly cut, wet grass and threw it up in the air only to come landing down in my hair. Her hands clasped over her mouth and she quickly apologized only to find me gathering a clump of my own to throw at her. This began a grass throwing war. We were soon joined by my 4 year old son who heard us laughing and squealing from inside.
If I had not have just read this newsletter I most likely would have been a little irritated at the itchy grass in my hair and down my shirt. Thank-you for reminding me what really matters 🙂
“To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today” ~ Anonymous
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Check out Vince’s book: Let the Fire Burn ~ Nurturing the Creative Spirit of Children, A Children’s Book for Adults