Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Slow Down and Play

Lena Baron
August 3, 2011
GRADE: 30/30
“Fantastic insights into the importance of play!”

Slow Down and Play
As a mother of three very active little boys, I feel like I’m “playing” all of the time. In reality, I’m just the referee. I found that in order for me to really play and have fun at the same time, it took some planning. This was not a new discovery for me. Thankfully, this assignment encouraged me to make the time to play with my boys and have fun.
What did you do to "play"? 
My first episode of playing was with my 6 year old son. We played a couple of rounds of the card game RACKO. We woke up to an overcast and drizzly day. So it was the perfect setting to play a game of cards. I put the little boys down for nap and pulled out the box. My son’s eyes lit up in surprise and anticipation. We sat together and re-learned how to play the game. As we sat together, the rain pounded the roof above us with a downpour and the storm threatened the power, making the game all the more enjoyable and out of the ordinary. My son came up with a fun way to mix things up a bit during our second round of cards. He decided we would switch cards in the middle of the game. It was fun to let loose a bit and pretend shock and dismay at the sight of my cards after he had played them for a while. As if my game plan was all unraveled. Yet, in reality, my real plan went off without a hitch. Our episode of play could not have been more enjoyable.
My second episode of playing was a simple game of Wii Bowling with my two oldest boys. I had planned ahead as far as establishing this particular day as my “play” day. However, I had forgotten this “plan” and it was almost time to prepare for dinner. That is, until I recognized my prime opportunity to “play”. My boys had set up the game to play together and my 3 year old was struggling to figure out how to play. To my oldest son’s surprise and delight I offered to take the time to help my younger son with his turn and then to go on and play the winner a couple of games of bowling, oh the joy in my boys’ eyes! My oldest son won the game and I was able to play against him. I even won a silver medal! However, the real warm fuzzy moment came when my husband walked in from work and saw us playing together. He came to me and with a hug and a kiss thanked me for taking the time to play with the kids. It really meant a lot to him because he understands the sacrifice that I was making as well as the benefits of what I was offering to my children, my time and my love.
How did it meet some of the definitions of play including: pleasurable and enjoyable, no extrinsic goals, spontaneous and voluntary, active engagement, and make-believe?  
            My episodes of play fit within the categories of Pleasurable and Enjoyable, Voluntary, and Active Engagement. With the game of RACKO I did have an extrinsic goal of helping my son practice his math skills and that episode was not spontaneous. However, the Wii game could be considered spontaneous. As you may note, I do not have Make Believe listed during my play episodes. This is because I lack the skill of pretending and “make-believe.” Really, it is a lack of ability. Thankfully, this is my husband’s forte.

Looking into the future, how can activities such as this help you stay balanced as a parent with your children, or children around you?
            My husband came home last night after a long day and informed me that he concluded after a session of introspection that he literally feels as if he is in a constant state of juggling. At this point, all of the balls are staying up in the air. But it takes a lot of concentration and balancing to keep them going. He has his family, a new business, and EMT classes that he is juggling. After pondering his comment and reflecting on my episodes of play, I have decided that it would be helpful for my husband as well as the whole family if I were to consciously make the time that my husband is home moments of Active Engagement with our children. I will set my things aside and just “play.” I know that this will fill my husbands love bucket, not to mention everyone’s love bucket. It will also elevate stress as we focus on what really matters in our home during our few moments together in the day. 

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