Anyone who has a kid has said those words. Anyone who has been a kid has heard those words.
Or some variant on the theme… Go outside and play. Get off the computer and play. All the same.
So, the parent says the words. What happens next? First, there is the initial whining. Followed by wheedling. Which may require repeating the phrase in a more stern tone of voice.
Eventually, the child goes off and figures out something to do. With my son, the next thing I know, I might find him curled up on the couch with a book. Or gluing popsicle sticks together to make a dam for some water experiment he’s planning for the backyard. Or drawing a subway map of his Minecraft world because his friends can’t find their way around when they meet up virtually. It always makes me smile to see the creativity that results when I say the magic words, Go play. Not to mention, he’s a happier and more fun person to be around after he’s gone off to play for a while.
When I was a kid, I didn’t think these words were for my own good. I thought they were just to get us out of my Mom’s hair. And, being a Mom myself, there is definitely an element of truth to that, but it’s not the whole truth. I say the words because I know that beyond the whining and the wheedling lies a world of creativity. A world of using his brain in different ways. A world that my son won’t tap into unless I set some parameter and make him move outside of the box. It works. Like magic.
So, now that I am grown up, who tells me to go play? Who tells you? Now that we’re adults, and we choose what to do with our time, what makes us move outside the box and forces us to think differently?
That’s a tough one.
Talking to my sister this weekend, she was telling me she needs to slow down in order to deal with some health issues she’s got going on. Being
cursed blessed with the same “do it all” gene I have, “slowing down” is really hard for her. I joked that she needs a doctor’s prescription to tell her to sit and read for an hour every day. That may be the only way she can give herself permission to rest.
It got me to thinking… Are we still looking for the authority figure to tell us to go play? Do we really require a doctor’s note, or a teacher’s homework, or a manager’s assignment, or a spiritual leader’s practice, to tell us to do something we know is good for us?
It’s crazy, but maybe we do. Sometimes, we may still be waiting for someone else to help push us out of the box into something that is good for us. Someone to tell us that it’s ok — go play.
What do you think? How do we, as adults, give ourselves permission rest or play when we need it? How do we force ourselves past our own whining and wheedling when it comes up? I’m not sure. I don’t have answers here, I’m looking for your input.
What gets you to go play?