Children and Play

Awhile back I sat in my car, in the driveway, to hear the end of NPR’s Speaking of Faith program on Play, Spirit, + Character.  I’m coming back to it today, this time to send it along.  I remember being convicted that a few broken bones acquired in unrestrained play was a much better option for my children than the risk of unformed spirits.

I’ve made a larger effort to say no to my inner “helicopter” tendencies, and to recognize and celebrate play as it is mixed up in the hullabaloo of daily family life.  To lighten up, basically.  I, myself, have been re-learning how to play–I somehow ceased playing when I was about 12 or 13–and am in debt to my children for teaching me the lost art again.   I’m hopeful about my playing future–I come from a long line of great play-ers…most notably my Great-Grandma Bobo, pictured below (so-named because she played peek-a-boo with me so much).  And my mom, who still plays effortlessly and timelessly (a wonderful trait in a Grandma!).

Make sure you click on the link to the program and at least peruse the transcript and the various tidbits on the site.

I’ll leave you with an excerpt from Conn Iggulden’s Washington Post article, In Praise of Skinned Knees and Grubby Faces.  (Read this one, too, it’s not long!)  I’m going right now to put his The Dangerous Book for Boys on my amazon wishlist.

Finally, we chose our title — “The Dangerous Book for Boys.” It’s about remembering a time when danger wasn’t a dirty word. It’s safer to put a boy in front of a PlayStation for a while, but not in the long run. The irony of making boys’ lives too safe is that later they take worse risks on their own. You only have to push a baby boy hard on a swing and see his face light up. It’s not learned behavior — he’s hardwired to enjoy a little risk. Ask any man for a good memory from childhood and he’ll tell you about testing his courage or getting injured. No one wants to see a child get hurt, but we really did think the bumps and scratches were badges of honor, once.


2 thoughts on “Children and Play

  1. Leilani, reading posts like these are more gratifying than you can know for SOF staff members. That picture is fabulous!

    Myself, I have a toddler and infant who have liberated myself from being too serious. What, at first, seemed dutiful became more natural and necessary. It’s a pure joy, even as I take a karate chop to the forehead.

    As a daddy who tends to recede and let children work out their problems maybe too much, my wife has taught me the value of the protective instinct too.

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