PERMISSION TO PLAY: The Year of YES
January 3, 2017
“It makes me feel strong when I PLAYand the wind comes over the moor,” argued Mary.“Where do you PLAY?” he asked next.“Everywhere,” gasped Mary.”
I’m a doer. I do things. I make lists, I check things off, and over the years, I have become pretty good at this art of doing. Check…Check…Check…all day long.
But the box I rarely check off my list is the one that says “PLAY”. Are you good at taking the time to play?
Somewhere along the way of growing up, I have built an imaginary brick wall between me and the pure, unADULTerated fun I knew as a kid.
When did I forget how to play?
How did I let my days get so covered up in “adulting” that I left no room for play?
I was laying on the couch recently listening to an intense game of Ping Pong in the garage between my 13 year old son and husband. My 10 year old daughter was cheering on the sidelines and the scorekeeper, so by her squeals and the boys groans, I could somewhat keep up with who was winning.
I was exhausted from my full day of “to do’s” and all I wanted to do was rest and just zone out for a bit before I started on the prep for dinner. I was lying there, soaking in the sounds of their “play” while scrolling through my “still to do” list, when a serious pang of jealously poked at me.
“How can he just play?” I thought to myself. “Doesn’t he have stuff to do? How is he not tired?”
HE, my husband, is SO GOOD at playing with the kids. Chasing them, tickle fights, playing in the yard, riding rides…he does it all. I smile to myself often when I see them play together, thankful my children have him for a dad.
Then Rylan came bounding into the room, pointed at me and said, “Your playing the winner next Mama!”
My heart sank while my head said, “You can’t play ping pong…just look at that to do list! Plus, you can barely lift your arm from exhaustion, much less play a game.”
And then the big one washed over my mind, “Plus you are NOT the fun parent, he is…and you don’t have time for fun.”
I squeezed her tight and told her that she should take my place in line because I needed to get started on dinner. And as she skipped away, I know she was not surprised by my response, because this is the answer I give more often than not. I even tell myself that I stay in shape so that I can play with my kids…but the hard truth is…I rarely do.
Fun? No thanks…I have stuff to do.
UGH. Really Keri?? The truth is, the To Do List you see tucked under my arm in this picture is 100% self induced. My husband is more than a 50/50 player in the house and he is not shirking his responsibilities to play. He is making play a part of his “Get to Do” list, while I am wallowing in my jealousy and drowning in a list that will never be done.
I know I need to ask myself…which will make me happier:
1) Knowing all of my boxes are checked off?
2) Giggling and playing with my kids?
I know the answer, but taking that first step and saying YES to Fun is so hard for me.
GETTING IN THE GAME
I am a runner. Ok…I am not a runner, but I run some, very slowly. And most days that first step out the door is the toughest. But after about 10 minutes of running, ok jogging, I am so happy I am out there. And I have never gotten to the end of a run and thought to myself…I shouldn’t have done that. Every time, I am so glad I got out of bed or off my coach and laced up my shoes.
It’s the same with fun. When I do say YES and jump into the game, I am so glad I did.
Frances had no problems jumping in to play. With her wild and open imagination, she was the perfect grandmother and play partner to my grandmother Verity and her sister Dorinda.
In a letter to a friend Frances wrote:
“Vivian brought the children up in the car and they rushed in out of the rain, dancing and shrieking with joy because Nanda was going to play with them.
I am Nanda, you know, and I am considered desperately fascinating. You see, le bon Dieu(The Good Lord), so made me that I can “be” any number of persons at a moment’s notice.”
She would pretend play with them for hours on end, “A great deal of telephoning is done and the “market man” constantly makes excuses and hasn’t got what we want. My armchair is a car and it gets out of order, and the garage man can’t mend it because he is “SO BUSY.”
Am I pretending to be “so busy” that I can’t be bothered by fun?
Would fun somehow make me any less of an adult?
Could I really have pure, childish, unADULTerated fun at MY AGE?
Full Definition of un(adult)erated
not adulterated : pure, complete, unqualified
Perhaps I need to get that ADULT out of my head and onto the playground of life.
FORGETTING THE FEAR
I mentioned to my husband about my ping pong pangs (say that 10 times fast) and wondered aloud to him, “Why do I feel like I don’t have permission from MYSELF to just play?”
He pointed to himself and jokingly said, “Perhaps it is because you are afraid to lose to the number one ping pong player?”
But perhaps that is true. What if I am afraid of FUN?
Am I am afraid to somehow lose my status as a responsible adult by taking the time to play like a kid? Am I afraid having fun is somehow frivolous and unproductive?
The truth: Yes. Somewhere inside, I am afraid to just LET GO and have fun.
A collaborative article called The Benefits of Play for Adults says this about an adult’s fear of play:
“Adults are often worried that being playful will get them labeled as childish. But what is so wrong with that? Children are incredibly creative, inventive and are constantly learning. Wouldn’t you want to be childish if that is the definition? Remember that as a child, you were naturally playful; you didn’t worry about the reactions of other people.”
I need to LET GO of my fear and give myself permission to PLAY.
LEARNING TO PLAY AGAIN
Back in The Secret Garden Mary said,
“I don’t play. I have nothing to play with.”
“You’ll have to learn to play like other children doeswhen they haven’t got sisters and brothers.” said Martha.
YES to FUN:Pure, unADULTerated FUN
Let’s GET IN THE GAME,FORGET THE FEAR of looking silly,and LEARN TO PLAY AGAIN together!