I will be visiting my sister’s beautiful family this summer (New Mexico to Chicago, IL to New Hampshire via Amtrak), and am already anticipating days of fun with my four-year-old nephew and two-year-old niece. That in turn made me think of how we grown-ups play. I don’t mean adult play – golf or cocktail parties or, for pity’s sake, Sudoku. I mean real play, like we did as children: running, jumping, singing, imagining.
When I’m around kids, I’m always struck by how in the moment they are, and how rarely adults tap into that particular joy. I always tell myself that I’m going to remember to be like that more often. And I always forget. Not all adults want to play, obviously. But for those of us who do, how are we supposed to recapture the magic?
One thing I do is make my own cards for birthdays, holidays, special occasions. Don’t get me wrong; I’m no artist. But those hours spent with scissors and construction paper and gluesticks and crayons – sheer joy. I’m not thinking about the bills or the economy or my oldest cat’s illness. I simply hum, and cut, and color, and snicker quietly to (at?) myself, surrounded by snippets of discarded scrapbooking sheets, loving every single moment.
Recently I bought a couple of old Fisher Price Little People houses and their accoutrements on eBay. These were my sister’s and my favorite toys as children; we called them People-o’s. With the originals long since given away, I thought it would be a fun birthday gift for her (and me). Of course I had to get everything out and verify the contents and condition. Of course what I ended up doing was setting up both houses, and before I knew it, the People-o’s were having conversations. The People-o’s also made an appearance at a party the following week, and for a few of my friends, they were a big hit.
[And in the annals of “did you know?” – last weekend, the Little People celebrated their 50th anniversary. If only they were real, I’d have sent a (homemade) card!]
Full disclosure: I also do the occasional cartwheel. So how about it – do you still play? And how? Do tell…