Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Play

So, apparently, our house (or my kid?) seems to subtly encourage kids to play in the mud and the dirt. I'm not sure whether to be pleased or concerned.

I kid. It makes me happy, 100%. Well, almost. I do hate cleaning the ring around the bathtub when I'm done spraying the kid down. But it's worth it.

I remember being a kid. We all do, to some extent. Most people can haul up at least one memory of playing outside until dark, blissfully engaged in some involved saga of make-believe or an invented game with ridiculously complex rules that made perfect sense to you.

And when you came inside, you generally were quite covered with a mixture of mud, grass, sweat, dirt, and perhaps some popsicle drippings.

Your mom or dad would force you into the tub, help you scrub down, and stuff you into your jammies. By this point, your eyes would be getting heavy and when it was time to go to sleep, you'd tumble into bed and nod off within minutes.

Bad days weren't days when the TV was only showing re-runs. They were days that were too rainy to play outside. They were days when you were sick and couldn't go meet your friends.

It makes me sad that the sight of children playing outside is becoming so scarce. Sure, you see it here and there. But when I was a kid, it was rare to play inside. More often than not, if you were inside for some reason other than a bathroom break or a meal, someone was bound to shuttle you towards the door admonishing you to "GO PLAY!" And you would.

Today, you're more likely to find kids parked inside in front of the TV or video games.

Neither are inherently bad. We watch TV and play video games. And most of us did as kids.

And yeah, we all have memories of watching our favorite shows or conquering the original Super Mario Brothers... but aren't our more vivid memories of playing? Just plain old playtime?

Right after C was born, I definitely found myself in a rut of TV and videos just to get through the day with an excitable toddler.

But neither of us were happy. Bean was bouncing off the walls and had trouble settling down to sleep. I felt horrible that I was constantly parking her in front of the tube in substitution for some sort of activity.

It got bad enough that I finally cut us off cold turkey. Trust me, those first few days were torture. I had a hard time thinking of things to do that would stop the incessant whining for "I WANT TO WATCH A VIDEO!"

But after a few days, Bean pretty much forgot about our TV binge. Sure, she asked once and awhile, but when I'd say no, it wasn't nearly the end of the world that it was before.

Better yet, we were doing things like dancing, painting, coloring, playing outside, imagining, taking care of babies. She was asking to help with chores (!), she played with her sister. She wrestled with Daddy and snuggled with Mommy. We read books and told stories. She started sleeping and eating better.

And it was SO MUCH STINKIN' FUN!

Sure, I'm a bit more tired at the end of the day. But I go to bed happy with my parenting instead of feeling guilty.

Right now, we're at a happy medium. We watch an occasional show or video and now they're more like treats than the standard. Her imagination is flourishing and she's content playing by herself. She likes reading books and having them read to her. She's creating stories from her own brain instead of re-creating something she saw on a show.

I love it.

Everyone is different. Some go with no TV, some don't have limits. I'm not here to judge what you do with that. All I'm encouraging you to do is to play. Better yet, play outside. Best? Play outside WITH your kids. Don't have kids? Borrow some. Or just go outside and do something active. I guarantee you'll have a ball. And maybe, just maybe, you'll find yourself falling back into a memory of a childhood moment that you'd long since forgotten.

video

3 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Our kids are SO STINKIN' CUTE!!

    And it should make pefect sense that Christopher got in trouble on the way home for licking his feet clean.

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  3. The flip side of that is weaning mommy from too much time on the computer. I'm still working on that one...

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