Let Me Play

Mike sent me this as a text yesterday and I absolutely loved it:

It was making the rounds around Facebook, and upon further investigation I found it comes from Jeff over at Explorations Early Learning LLC.  I have a feeling Jeff either already is, or would be a fan of 50 Dangerous Things, seeing as how he has a slingshot (Dangerous Thing #27) for sale in his online store. I really want to meet this guy one day.

Back to the picture … if you take a look at his Facebook page, you can also find other versions that people have doctored using their age, such as “I am 32 …” and using a picture of themselves playing.  This is so very true.  Whether we’re 3 or 33 or 63, we all need play in our lives.

One of my favorite memories in college had nothing to do with wings or keg stands (although I do love me some wings and I know a thing or two about keg stands).  My girlfriend and I were on our way to hear a lecture by Jaime Escalante that was required for a class.  It was after dinner and already dark on our midwestern campus.  Days before the entire campus had been closed due to an unprecedented ice storm.  Most of the campus was still a solid sheet of ice.  We were cutting through campus, probably late, and tried to make our way up a small hill.  Chatting away, my girlfriend bit it and slid down the hill sprawled out on her belly.  I lost my balance laughing at her and slid down in a heap next to her.  Instead of brushing ourselves off and taking the sidewalk, we spent the next 30 minutes trying to scale the hill and falling down in laughter.  I might have peed myself (then again, maybe not. This was before I had kids).  I definitely ruined my coat, as the handful of jelly packets I stole from the dining hall exploded inside my coat.  We missed the lecture.  I guarantee you that had we gone to the lecture, I probably couldn’t tell you a thing about it today.  But every time I think about us goofing off on that icy hill I smile.

I get so sad when I see kids getting scolded for not meeting expectations that are entirely inappropriate for their age.  We can model to our 3-year-olds what it means to sit quietly for a few minutes so that they can eventually learn the skill, but we cannot expect them to sit still and be quiet for an hour-long church service.  I am setting both Eli and I up for failure if I take him to my favorite artsy boutique and expect him not to touch everything.

Life with young children is so much easier if we manage our expectations and incorporate free time into our days.  I’m pretty sure one of the circles of Hell, for both parents and children, is a day filled with errands followed by an evening of sports practices and enrichment classes.  I used to feel guilty when I’d look back on a day and realize we’d never left the house.  Could I be any more boring or shortchange my kids of any more valuable experiences?  Now I realize that a day with Legos strewn across the kitchen table and couch cushions on the floor is day very well spent, as is a day with sand and grit tracked into the house and a screen door that never seems to stay shut.

No  matter your age, no matter the season, please make time in your life to get out and play.



  1. I shared this on FB yesterday too. 🙂 I whole-heartedly agree w/ it (and your post) That is one of the biggest reasons I don’t want to send Nathan to kindergarten early. I aspire to let my kids play as much as possible and I’m working on letting them be a little more risky too!

  2. The Spirit and Place Festival’s 2012 theme is PLAY. It “will explore how play contributes to our physical, emotional, social, and community well-being.” See you there!

  3. Playing is the best teacher! Great TED talk on play: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRVrm3svaUk&feature=youtu.be (click [cc] translate button).
    Life is for Playing! As my son just said the other day 🙂 He’s as smart as the scholars! ha!