Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My Connection to Play


When children pretend, they’re using their imaginations to move beyond the bounds of reality. A stick can be a magic wand. A sock can be a puppet. A small child can be a superhero.

Fred Rogers
American children’s television host

It is a happy talent to know how to play.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
American writer

The most essential thing for play when I was a child was friends.  When I was a child we played from the time school ended until dinnertime every weeknight.   Weekends consisted of unstructured baseball games at the schoolyard. We rode our bikes everywhere all summer long.

The play equipment we had was huge and dangerous but we were so proud of ourselves when we made it to the top of the tall slide or the cage at the top of the rocket.

We pushes friends as hard as we could on merry go rounds and cheered them on to  jump off high flying swings

       The play I remember in my childhood was largely unsupervised.  At least it felt that way to us.   Large groups of neighborhood children would meet at the school yard and play until dinnertime. There were baseball and kick ball games. We practiced new tricks on the bars and chased each other with tag and hide-and-go-seek.   Very few times do I remember playing inside.  Mostly, I think that was reserved for birthday parties and  wet winter day when you and one or two friends played in your room.  My house had a large covered porch and I remember my brother, myself, and all our friends sitting out there playing on rainy days. We rode bikes all over the neighborhood,  everyone knew the boundaries of the neighborhood and we ran free within these limits.  Because I lived across the street from a school, I played a lot on things like swings and monkey bars.

       Today parents have to be much more vigilant when watching their children.  Play is more often something that is prearranged with play dates. This may have to do with the fact that more often than not, both parents are working and the children go to childcare after school.  Their group of friends may not be from their local neighborhood at all, but where their childcare time is spent.   Outside activities in childhood now are also more organized.  Children join teams for every sport imaginable. They are missing the fun of making the rules as a group.  We would have rules that  handicapped the really good players so that the younger kids had a chance.  We learned to agree as a group, and to look for the fairness in situations.    Much of a child’s play today is electronic.  We didn’t have Nintendo or computers in my childhood.  Today’s  children in my experience, need to be prodded to leave the gadgets at home and just go and explore. 

I love play and I have stayed active throughout my life.  I took my kids to the park and then grabbed a swing myself.  It is important to remember the value of spending a couple hours just letting go. Forgetting those adult responsibilities and just playing. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Relationship Reflection

I am fortunate to have a great number of positive relationships in my life.  The first I would mention is with my husband John.  We are partners in everything. In this relationship, I have a safe place to share my concerns and fears. We brainstorm and work together to meet our goals.  We are there for each other in good and bad.  He is a cornerstone in my family’s structure.
The second group of people I want to mention  are my two beautiful Granddaughters.  Being involved in the daily aspects of their lives has been an amazing journey.  It is a tremendous pleasure to help them grow and to spend time with these two wonderful girls.  They fill me up with love and happiness and I know I do the same for them.  Watching my daughter raise her own daughters is an awesome experience.
I have recently had to learn to deal with long-distance relationships with my two sons. Both of whom live over an hour away in opposite directions.  They still call for advice, although not as often anymore as they have both are in relationships with significant others.  Maintaining these close ties is now a little harder as their own family obligations begin to take hold.  I know that we have built a strong bond within our family and that we will always be close no matter how far away we are.

In my work-life, I have mentors who I trust to help me make decisions and teach me.  I enjoy mentoring new teachers and helping them build their own skills.  Many of my friends were people I have worked with.  Currently, there is a group of us that get together weekly for lunch and socialization.  Keeping relationships with friends means taking the time and effort to be there for them, just as they are there for me.  In order to remain sane in a very difficult and sometimes disheartening field, it is important to have people that understand the type of work we do and can offer support