Playfulness

Those are three of the most ridiculous words I’ve ever seen put together in a sentence.  They’re used on kids who “misbehave”, when in actuality, they ARE acting like eight-, ten- or whatever-year olds.  They’re used on adults who enjoy acting like kids.  They’re basically used on anyone who’s acting in a way that someone else doesn’t approve of.  Often, those three words are used in conjunction with “grow up”.

I’ve actually never fully “grown up”; something for which I’m very proud.  At 41, I still love to play with Fisher Price toys, or color in a coloring book. And whenever I’m in a doctor’s office, I zoom right over to the table with the colored beads on different wire paths.  If there’s another kid around there, we have a blast.

I used to hate the phrase “act your age”, and thankfully my mother never used it with my brother or I.  She knew the value of keeping the wonderment and simple joy of childhood with you as you got older.  Still does, actually (Thanks, mom!)

I think that’s one of the reasons I enjoyed babysitting even well into my thirties.  There are two girls back in Chicago that I used to babysit quite often, and we had the best of times whenever we got together.  One of the first times I babysat them, they wanted to play doctor.  They had this little kit that came with patient forms, prescription forms, cotton balls, tongue depressors and a stethoscope, but not much else in the way of the gadgets that doctors shine at you, or look in you with.  So, I went through their toy box and found a toy hammer to use for the reflex hammer. A kaleidoscope became  the tool that checks your ears, and I found an odd assortment of other things that were used as a syringe, or cast, or whatever else I thought I needed as their doctor.  For the next several months, “doctor” was the first item of play for us.  Not only was it great fun for the girls, but I benefited from it, too.

I think using your imagination keeps you young.  It’s part of the reason most kids seem so vibrant and alive.  They’re still able to see things in various ways, and not just the labels we adults have put on things.  To them, a blanket can be a cape, or the roof of your tent or fort.  Heck, any parent has watched their toddler open a present, only to discard said gift and play with the cardboard box for hours instead.  Cardboard boxes are probably the ultimate imagination toy.  With scissors, crayons, paper, or anything else, a box can be transformed into any manner of magical items.

It’s a little sad when we start to “grow up” and act our adult age.  We get caught up in the daily grind of work, chores, bills, etc., and often forget that an escape from all of those things is merely a coloring book, or set of Legos away.  Even myself . . . I’ll often hear Craig’s daughter making up stories for her Barbies or toys, and smile at the wonderment of it.  Sometimes I’ll go in and play with her, but not as often as she’d like, I’m sure (and to be honest, I think I’d enjoy it a little more often myself).  So I’m going to make sure to take a little more time to play with her.  She’s nearing her teen years; when kids start to pull away from their parents and assert some independence.  I’m sure, once she’s fully entrenched in those confusing years, there will be days when I’ll wish she wanted me to play Barbies with her.

So, while I’m getting ready for more play time, I encourage each of you to take a little time to unleash your imagination again, too.  Whether you have kids, grandkids, neices/nephews, or if you have the chance to babysit a friend’s kids . . . take the opportunity to connect with them on a fun level.  It might feel a little stilted at first, dusting off the gears of imagination, but it’s still worth the stumbling.  Not just for the kid’s sake, but also for the inner child still living within you.

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10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. David Fitzgerald
    Dec 09, 2011 @ 09:01:56

    You said it, Alyx! Loved this post…
    -D

    Reply

  2. Dana
    Dec 09, 2011 @ 10:05:32

    Couldn’t agree with you more. 🙂

    Reply

  3. Cindy Sample
    Dec 09, 2011 @ 10:17:16

    Great post, Alyx. I remember at the age of 11 when my friends were all goggly-eyed over boys, I was still playing with dolls. I told my mother that my childhood wouldn’t last forever. Although it sort of has. As far as I’m concerned you’re never too old to wear pink fringe, as noted in my recent dance showcase. I will admit my hips have been arguing with me since my performance but that’s why God invented Ibuprofen! Let’s keep on having fun.

    Reply

  4. Dolly Chamberlin
    Dec 09, 2011 @ 13:42:01

    I believe in it & was happy to share it & pass it on!! LOVES ;}

    Reply

  5. Maddy
    Dec 11, 2011 @ 14:26:28

    Love the fruitcake! And the post. No trouble nurturing my inner child around here, especially at this time of year.

    Reply

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