And These are the Knight's Flying Horses, Mimi...
by Jiffy Page
“Well, yes they are, and they eat flowers and take the knight anywhere he wants?”
I’m sitting on the floor with my granddaughter, Maddy, surrounded by Lego blocks, horses, pirates, and Darth Vader and I’m rusty. She’s not.
Maddy is newly four and these flying horses need dinner and to take the knights to see the Princess who lives WAAAY over there…on the chair on the opposite side of the room, which is, of course, in a magical kingdom.
I am 50ish. I am a “Type A.” I love to be silly and play games, but it’s been a long time since I’ve played like this – total freeform imaginary play. So I’m rusty…but Maddy doesn’t care.
“Just follow her lead,” I say to myself…and the green Lego board becomes a spaceship to take the flying horses across the ocean and me back to a part of myself I haven’t tapped into in a very long time but is still there. Yesss!!
How long has it been since you’ve played?
First, a definition: "Play is something done for its own sake," explains Dr. Stuart Brown, head of the nonprofit National Institute for Play. "It's voluntary, it's pleasurable, it offers a sense of engagement, it takes you out of time. And the act itself is more important than the outcome.”
We know play is important for kids – important enough that this year’s Georgia Legislature is voting to require it for elementary school students:
“HB 273: Amends O.C.G.A. 20-2-323 to require local boards of education to provide recess, an average of 30 minutes, for kindergarten and grades one through five every school day beginning in the 2017-2018 school year.”
(From State Representative Pat Gardner’s March 25, 2017 Legislative Update Enewsletter)
Play is for kids, right?
Turns out that play is important for us “no longer kids”, too. Below are links to articles describing why we should be playing, but in essence here’s what play does for us, according to the National Institute of Play:
“Play generates optimism, seeks out novelty, makes perseverance fun, leads to mastery, gives the immune system a bounce, fosters empathy and promotes a sense of belonging and community.”
I don’t want to put a fine point on it, because after all, it seems incongruous to be so serious about play.
But, when Spring Fever strikes you, just go out and do what you love – walk, dig in the dirt, hit tennis balls.
Or, if hay fever strikes, just stay in and play video games, read, write poetry.
Or, find yourself a four-year-old with a bunch of Legos, a well-oiled imagination and flying horses, and go to a magical kingdom.
Just for the fun of it.