Can you still play?

We have talked a lot about play. And about how children play. What they use to play and why. Some of you may have noticed this already – we could go on forever. But right now we want to invite you to do something different –  simply sit back for a while and just observe, but not just your children, observe yourself when you were a child. Magda Gerber talked so much about the ability to observe our children, the importance of observation in understanding them and in building a relationship. Surely this applies not only to children. So how about we observe ourselves for a while? Let’s start from the very beginning – let’s travel back in time.

So let‘s do this. Let‘s sit back. And let‘s talk about us for a moment.

How did you play when you were a child ?

What is the first thing that pops into your mind when you think about fun childhood memories?
What did you enjoy most?
Who did you play with? Your siblings, friends, parents? Or your imaginary friends only?

Maybe if we all do this once in a while, we will look at our children play a little differently. Maybe we will join more often, instead of making sure that their shoelaces are tied properly, or that their hands are washed… maybe even we will be able to discover something in this observation we had long forgotten about? Or perhaps we will be able to work on our relationship with ourselves a bit more? After all, it all starts with observation.

So, close your eyes. Come on, you know you want to do this J Let yourself go back into your childhood. Where are you? What are you doing? And most importantly – are you having fun?

When I think back I see myself in my grandparent‘s garden. It‘s the place of my childhood. Whenever I smell freshly cut grass I am in this huge garden at the end of that small village. Where all you heard all day was dogs barking, chicken and the occasional tractor going by. I see myself walking around on big wooden stilts I got from our neighbor. I see myself collecting tons of acorns from the huge acorn trees or watching the sky from the swing that hung underneath the big nut tree. I am eating carrots I just dug out and I am feeding the rabbits. I am busy wandering around the many sheds that contained soooo many old things I tried to figure out what they were. It was a whole fantastic world of fantastic things and I loved making my own mind up about everything I saw and did.

It took me a while to see what I did when I wasn‘t there. When I was at home in the city living in an apartment block that is so typical for the former East. All I can see myself do there is draw, read or write. Or hang out with my friend who lived three storeys above.

I cannot think of unhappy times. Not during my childhood. Whenever I see myself do things I mentioned above I see a happy girl doing what she loves and enjoys. And a warm breeze of joy overcomes me writing this down. (Nadine)

***

I’m in the tree. I’m so high up I don’t really care anymore (funny, now I am afraid of heights) I can’t see or hear what is going on down below. We climb as high as we can with my cousin and then we rush down as quickly as our legs and arms let us. Finally, we end up lying in the grass under the tree, laughing so hard we can hardly catch a breath. I hear my son laugh like that now sometimes when he runs around – is it only in connection with movement that we can laugh so hard? I remember trees and grass and hay and us running around or jumping or just lying and looking in the sky. I remember the taste of stolen apples and strawberries – picked from the field right next to our grandma’s, even though she had the same strawberries and apples. Hiding from the neighbor who pretended to be angry. We were only alone if we chose to be, and there was always someone ready for another big adventure – a walk after dark, following some older cousins to see what they were up to. There was always some mistery around the corner.(Anna)

Sometimes we wonder too much about what and how our children play. Are the toys appropriate? Are the games educational? Are they hanging out with the ‘right’ kind of friends? Maybe going back to our own memories can help us understand the play of our children.

But wait! This is about us right?

“In psychology and ethology, play is a range of voluntary, intrinsically motivated activities normally associated with recreational pleasure and enjoyment.“ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Play_(activity))

So when does pleasure and enjoyment overcome you? Now – as an adult? Is it similar to what you enjoyed as a child? Or has it changed? And if so – when? How?

“What did you do as a child that made hours pass like minutes? Herein lies the key.” ~Carl Jung

I had a flashlight I used when I hid under blankets at night and read and read and read. And then, right next to my books there were notebooks filled with poems, stories, both finished and unfinished. I don’t have a flashlight for reading anymore, but I do fall asleep with a book more than once a week. And as for writing? Well, here I am :) (Anna)

***

Considering writing on 5 different blogs I think writing is my greatest passion. This is when I feel big volcanoes of pleasure and enjoyment overcome me. When I feel free and happy. If I‘d be able I would do that and nothing else for a living. And I still like doing things on my own. Enjoying the world and nature around me. So for me not much has changed despite the fact that time is limited. (Nadine)

Quite often when we think about our childhood we think about the relationship between our parents and us. Especially when we have children of our own we look at how things were back then and how we do them now. We hardly ever take time to really travel back in time and remember. But maybe this can help us understand ourselves better. Seeing who we were and what we did. What we loved and enjoyed. And if we had forgotten – maybe do those things again and see if they feel the same now? And surely, if we can understand ourselves a bit better, we can understand our children better as well?

I still love sitting on swings watching the sky and trees above me. But I am getting old and therefore sick on swings so the joy isn‘t lasting. (Nadine)

We have talked about us. Now it‘s your turn. Travel back and then tell us! We are curious to know what really mesmerized you when you were little! What was it that made hours pass like minutes? What put the biggest smile on your face?

Tell us if you want to… or perhaps, tell you children one day :)

Nadine & Anna

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