My 3-year-old g’son’s favorite words seem to be, “MiMom, wanna play?” I treasure my time with him and so if he wants to play, I try my damnedest to make it happen. Yes, it will most assuredly worsen my fibromyalgia pain, but some things are just that important. Anyway, this morning, we had breakfast at the table out in the backyard. Before he’d finished eating, he jumped up with a twinkle in his little eyes and said the magic words, “Wanna play?” I readily agreed, but insisted that he finish his breakfast before doing so. He quickly ate it all. “Play” was my morning agenda. We played ball, blew bubbles, made sand castles and more. Whatever he suggested, I went along with enthusiastically.
Actually, not everything. The scooter request was not happening. You see, earlier during this trip, after his persistent pleas, and against my better judgment, I dared to get my butt on one of his scooters. He wanted to race. Although he zoomed around 5 times to my one, I was exhilarated as we seemingly soared, with the wind rushing by. That is, until I hit a bump in the concrete and literally flew over the scooter and landed on my side.
I landed with so much force that I now understand the meaning of the saying it “knocked the wind out of me.” I couldn’t speak or move for at least 2 minutes. My mouth opened but no words came out. When I could manage to whisper, I asked B. to get his Mom. He thought we were playing a game and asked, “MiMom, what are you doing on the ground? Let’s play.” When I realized that I wasn’t getting any help from my little guy, I kept calling for my daughter. In my head, I was shouting but in reality, the words were barely audible. Finally, she and a visiting friend heard me and ran out, to find me frozen on the ground. I was as they say “dazed and confused.” (By the way, the daughter that I am visiting was in that movie. I know, so random, huh?)
I am deeply indebted to my daughter’s visiting friend who, while not a nurse, had two very active boys. She insisted that I not be moved, which was a good thing because I couldn’t even feel my left side enough to know whether I broke anything. After asking me several questions, she felt confident that I was lucid and began asking me what hurt. By then, all that I could feel was my left side. It felt as if some huge wrestler had body slammed me and rearranged my organs. It hurt like hell. Cutting to the chase, they finally moved me into the house and arranged me on the couch. Aside for my side, the fall scraped me up but, by some miracle, I was not severely injured. Every muscle in my body screamed for days, which is saying something since, as I mentioned, I have fibromyalgia, and the top of my left foot still hurts and is swollen. In any case, I apologize for the digression. I suppose that I didn’t realize how my scooter experience affected me. (Just telling the story makes my side hurt!)
The point of this post is “play.” While B. and I were playing, I was in the moment and having so much fun, that I was giddy with laughter. I couldn’t help it, his laugh was infectious. At some point, I thought of all the games that I loved as a child–they brought back good memories. I began teaching him some of the games that I played as a child and the question occurred to me, when was the last time that I played with abandon? Since the “scooter” incident is too traumatic to count, I could not for the life of me remember the last time that I’d truly played. I mean played for the sake of playing, not with the g’children.
I asked myself, when did I lose that feeling of reckless abandon, when the most difficult decision that I had to make was which game to play next? When did I lose the spontaneity, endless imagination and creativity displayed by children? A child can turn an old box into a castle and a stick into a magic wand. There is no goal too lofty for a child. Instinctively, a child believes that he or she can slay dragons and ride unicorns. As children, our minds hatched infinite possibilities, and we were still innocent enough to believe that they were possible. I think that “play” is integral to that mindset.
As a child grows older, the expectation is that we stop childish games and grow up. “Play,” as we once knew it, is frowned upon. Of course, I realize that we must grow up and as adults, we inherit inescapable responsibilities and obligations. Most of us work, not because we want to, but because we have to. Most of our days are so committed to work, children, school or one thing or another that “play” seems like a foreign concept.
Granted, as adults, we know that neither unicorns nor dragons exist (At least, I don’t think so.). Yet, must adulthood mean the end of play, and with it, the loss of endless possibility. The creativity and imagination that we exhibited as children is essential to our progress as a society. Without it, there would be no internet or computers, no music, no art, no medical advancements, no new innovations and no hope of addressing society’s ills. “Play,” if only for a time, allows our minds to consider the impossible, and make it possible. It expands our minds and maneuvers us through uncharted waters. “Play,” although relegated to children, is not reserved for them. So, I say to you,
“How would your life be different if…You decided to give freely, love fully, and play feverously? Let today be the day…You free yourself from the conditioned rules that limit your happiness and dilute the beautiful life experience. Have fun. Give – Love – Play!”
~ Steve Maraboli, The Power of One
I’d love to hear your favorite childhood games and why.