Where An Adult Can Be A Kid

I heard an interesting article last week during NPR’s series on the importance of “play”.  According to the research presented in this article, adults need to play just as much as kids do.

“[Play] helps us maintain our social well-being. And it’s not just board games that do this, but soccer leagues, or playing paintball in the woods. And not just after-work recreation, but team-building exercises in corporate offices. Playing is how we connect.”

We used to accept that play was important for children, though we’ve been determined to cut back play time more and more recently in favor of more class time over recess but that’s another story.  This notion that adults need to play also is a strange idea that really runs contrary to a lot of messages that we are taught in society, well at least in American culture I can say with some authority.  After all, when we grow up we put away childish things (like play) and step into our adulthood full of responsibility and service right?  Can you remember the last time you ran outside and danced under the sprinklers in your bare feet on a hot summer’s day?  When was the last time you climbed to the top of a hill and rolled down to see who could get to the bottom the fastest?  Can you remember the last time you made a snow angel or got excited and raced out of your house at the sound of the Ice Cream Man coming down your street?

 

Have we forgotten how to play?

 

I’ve watched my nephew sit in the middle of the floor and twist and turn one thing that caught his fancy just as happy and contented as anything.  We wasn’t organizing or squeezing in time to do a little yoga amidst his busy day like his Auntie M.  He was enjoying the moment.  My sister-in-law sent me a video not too long ago of him swimming in his pool.  The joy in his face made me remember how much fun I used to have just playing in the water before my world filled up with deadlines and meetings and schedules that always seem to leave me exhausted by the time I drag myself back home at the end of a workday.  I think about where play might still remain in my life and I suppose I have my FarmVille2. But with all of the desk sitting I do in my regular job, the idea that my only playtime recreation is to sit back down to a computer and play a game is…frightening.

 

Does watching tv count as play?

 

Yeah, I don’t think so.  Most of the time I’m not gathered at my house with friends watching a marathon of our favorite show.  I’m not building relationships that lead to a sense of community.  And social media might be a little bit better because it is interactive, but reality can get so distorted in that online world that a few casual “Likes” on a person’s page can create a sense of close intimacy and attachment to the recipient completely unintended by the sender.

 

What about exercise groups and MeetUp events?

 

I think this can get us closer to groups that can play, but there is such “purpose” wafting around in the air whenever I engage in group exercise, I wouldn’t quite call it “fun”.  We get so busy with the business of living that it’s no wonder that it seems hard to find time to play.  I think, maybe there’s something I can learn from my husband and his Xbox Live gaming.  Ladies, maybe the fellas have figured out something that we haven’t.  That its is important to have a frivolous pursuit that helps to unload the stress we pick up on our jobs, something social that connects us to others with common interests.  Perhaps I’m in the minority on this one and everyone else understands and values the role that “play” can play in one’s life.  I am after all an academic and we don’t live the most balanced of lives truly.  I’d go so far as to say we are encouraged to live extraordinarily unbalanced lives due to the nature of our work and the rewards structure to which we have pledged allegiance.  But somehow, I don’t really think I’m alone in this.

So I’m going to spend this week paying tribute to the kid that still lives deep down inside of me and do some kiddie things with her.  I might go on a dandelion hunt or blow bubbles in my back yard with dish soap, a hanger and a bucket.  I’m going to remember what it was like to see things through my child’s eye and not take everything quite so seriously.  Shoot, I might even break out my old Klingon dictionary and honor that little girl who used to dream about the pure wonder of a world where anyone could do anything, even fly faster than the speed of light.

If you’d like to read or listen to the NPR story that inspired this post, it can be found here:  http://tinyurl.com/mvpx88c

And for those of you who might need to remember what it was to be a child growing up in the 80’s and 90’s here’s a little diddy for you straight outta Qo’noS (or Kronos for English speakers)!

Video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PDY7qtTsVw

Yljah, Qey’ ‘oH (Lyrics in Klingon)

bah-dah too-moh Bagh Da tuH mogh

Sho-jah doo-roh ChojaH Duh rHo

Ya-zjah kay-oh yIjah, Qey’ ‘oH

Ya-zjah kay-oh yIjah, Qey’ ‘oH

Ya-zjah kay-oh-ooo yIjah, Qey’ ‘oH

 

Mah dok, u-do majaq. ‘o’ tugh

jih dok, mah zjoo jiDaq. majun.

Par dok, cha-bah! pa’Daq jagh baH!

bu-rak, chu-qa ou’ lo’ tlhuHQo’!

 

Telbar nay-goo tep lagh negh ‘uH

Moo-go toh-doo mughato’ tu’

Ya-zjah kay-oh yIjah, Qey’ ‘oH

Ya-zjah kay-oh yIjah, Qey’ ‘oH

Ya-zjah kayoh-ooo yIjah, Qey’ ‘oH

 

Boh-naj ya-deetch wo’ naj, cha’ DIch

Not-veer bah-reech Do’ chIj, wa’DIch

Key-jol kel-baj ‘ejDo’ ‘el Da’

keh-dah oh-kie Qib’a’ bopar

 

Ya-zjah kay-oh yIjah, Qey’ ‘oH

Ya-zjah kay-oh yIjah, Qey’ ‘oH

Ya-zjah kayoh-ooo yIjah, Qey’ ‘oH

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