She’s going to play regardless, but she would really like to play with me.
Since Tilly came to live with me, I’ve realized I don’t play much. Oh sure, young friends occasionally come over and we get out Candy Land. About twice a year I engage in very structured play like ping pong or volleyball. But even then, playing is not the goal.
Playing is for kids.
In her chapter called “Slowing Down for Childhood” in Not So Fast: Slow Down Solutions for Frenzied Families, Ann Kroeker she talks about making time in our children’s lives for them to simply play.
Life is short. Time flies. It seems that if you blink, your child goes from toddling with a sippy cup in hand to signing up for driver’s ed, a Starbucks mug propped in the drink holder. Why speed it up? Why rush? Why hurry through the precious years of youth, when ideas are budding and curiosity is insatiable?
I know why a lot of parents do it, why I would probably do it if I had children. Parents pack their kids’ schedules from morning to night so that their children will have every opportunity, won’t miss out, and won’t be behind others when it comes time to try out or compete.
When I was young, I often wanted a busier schedule, wanted more lessons and activities that my parents couldn’t afford. In hindsight, though, I am certain that I wouldn’t have written as much poetry or drew as many pictures or read as many books had I gotten my way.
So why do I think I can be as creative and contemplative as an adult with a crammed-full schedule?
I like what Ann’s friend Judy Vriesema said about a slow childhood that blossoms into a slow adulthood.
‘We think that kids have to be exposed to everything in childhood in order to be good at it, but it’s just not true. If it’s meant to come of out of them, God will bring it out.’ She uses herself as exhibit A. ‘Look at me — I never gardened when I was young. Oh, I helped weed my parents’ vegetable garden begrudgingly, but as an adult, I love gardening. God is good; He’ll give you new gifts as you go. There’s not just this narrow season of life in which we can explore our interests and gifts. It’s not all in childhood.’
There’s been a lot of discussion recently about how hard parents should push their children (i.e. Tiger Mothers). And the priorities parents make for their offspring are important. But also important is how parents, and other adults who love children, model what it means to live a deliberate, creative, and slow life.
In other words, that we remember how to play.
(There’s a puppy running around here who is going to be very happy to hear me say that!)
My friend Laura is relearning what it means to play with God, to “embrace the God-joy.” Visit her at The Wellspring to read more about her playdates.
Also, I loved reading this post by fellow High Calling blogger Todd Fitchette about laughing like a baby.