Thursday, April 21, 2011

Play, Children

Lola had a little friend over, a beautiful brown eyed pixie faced girl with a sad, sloping mouth. I walked past them into the kitchen. Lola was standing over her friend. Well what about fairies, she asked? The little girl shrugged. Connect Four?, I heard Lola ask as I trailed into the bedroom with Ever on my shoulder.

Later I walked through the living room and they had barely moved. Lola was sad. What's going on, I asked. What are you two going to play? Lola looked at her friend, her friend shrugged. She just wants to watch T.V., Lola told me. We aren't allowed to have the T.V. on during play-dates, for the most part. PLAY-dates. See? So I suggested a few games, and her friend kept shrugging at me. A familiar shrug. Lola has playdates every weekend, sometimes just kids down the street she is hanging out with, sometimes an official 'playdate' with a friend from school, and lately there has been a common theme with these little girls: prepubescent malaise, otherwise known as I'm Bored. And these girls are really, really, really bored. Jump rope? Yawn. American Girl dolls? Naw. Pet Shop Creatures? Been there. Baby dolls? Animal hospital? BARBIES, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD?!!! Nope....

But I'd really like to watch T.V.

I've taken to getting involved with their play, something I would have died if my own mother had done. I took Lola and another tragically bored young lady on a 'explorers walk' and by the time we got home they were trilling and tinkering and happy with their collection of acorns and rocks. So by the time we reached the millionth and three play dates of boredom, I had it. Look, you two, I said grimly. You can either find something to do and look like the playful, carefree children you are meant to be, or this play date is over. Harsh. I know.  Lola and friend headed out front and within ten minutes were engaged.

We watch T.V. Sometimes, we watch too much T.V.  We have a computer. Sometimes, we spend too much time on the computer. ( we=me ) We have video games, cell phones, and Ian has an I-Pod. And, we play. We make room for play, on a regular basis. We insist on it.  Imaginative play is so crucial to the development of empathetic, intelligent and creative human beings that to consider it's erosion is truly depressing. Lack of toys never killed imagination, but overuse of toys that don't involve screens could.  

Here's a game: let's pretend all these children are on a playdate together at your house, and the power goes out. 
Petit fleur said...

That was so not harsh... Is sounded firm and determined and I am proud to know ya momma! You did it just right.

xoxo
pf

Caroline of Salsa Pie said...

Maggie, I couldn't agree with you more. In fact, almost my entire blog is devoted to this belief.
You did the right thing, in my view and I would have done the same!
Sending love to everyone. xo :)

Only A Girl said...

I force my kids to play too. I enforce "kids only" playtime (no adults involved at all) so that they have to use their imaginations. Whenever we go to the park I make my daughter find kids to play with instead of just playing with me. If they say they're bored I say find something to do. :) Good job!

January Dawn said...

Love this post. My 3 year old has occasionally said he's bored although I don't think he completely understands what it means. I tell him and will continue to tell him "Only boring people get bored". He thereafter always finds something to do. I cannot stand the saying "I'm bored" It drives me bananas!

Darcy said...

i so worry about my little boy growing up in this digital age with all these digital things and their digital brains! I like to know you can set down these rules and eventually they just break down and give in to the fun that exists outside of the pixels.

Mel said...

Good for you Maggie! Laziness of imagination is a plague thanks to electronic overstimulation. My daughter's kindergarten teacher always told her kids when they complained of being bored that only boring people got bored, so go get interesting. I've borrowed that one to use on my own, and it's harsh, but true.
The last time the power went out, the littlest said she hoped it happened again, because we all played games together in candlelight and it was fun.
Keep up the good, hard work!

Maggie May said...

Most kids get bored, I did, my kids0 do, but the particular thing that strikes me is being bored on a playdate!

Melinda Owens said...

I know what you mean...things have changed. When my brothers and I were young, we stayed outside until dark, when my Mother screamed our names. Best night ever: Our power went out during a summer storm and I lit candles in the fireplace, made a pallet on the living room floor, and read the first chapter of to my girls, ages 11 and 10.

See Kate run. said...

Oh, let's! I'm turning off my computer right now.

POPPY FRENCH said...

Yesterday we played badminton in the sun for awhile, but now its still sunny and I'm indoor reading blogs and the boyf is playing internet poker. This is not good Easter weekend behavior!
But on a separate note when my brother was born when I was 6 I didn't watch TV for about 3 years, it was brilliant! Keep it up! Though I remember getting in deep trouble with my play date friend because I sat under her table reading Harry Potter while she played with my brother, she is still mad to this day!

Middle Child said...

When our girls were kids my husband had a solution for anyone who used the "bored" word - he gave them a job to do and he followed them up till these jobs were done - so after a short while they never said it

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