Each new month has new opportunities. April seems to be rich with them. Each Spring I feel an excitement about the play potential of the upcoming season. The kids are a little older and a little more able to play skillfully. I use the word skillfully cautiously, because it is not so much a judgment of their skills, but of an observation of how they’re growing and changing. This April it is my goal to daily journal our play experiences as we shed out jackets, break out the bucket of toys and move into a fresh season. It is my hope not to do new activities because I’m writing about them, but rather to document the things that we’re doing recording experiences and thoughts about play. Sometimes these observations will be joyful and fun, other times raw and a bit sad.
I have to admit that some days I struggle to play. Today was one of those days. True play is sometimes work. Mostly good work, but work nonetheless. I routinely fight with the everyday and miss great opportunities for play with the kids, Jeff, and personal play. There are always things to be done and since I’m not a great housekeeper, I always feel behind. Some chores can wait, but others just can’t. Dishes need to get done.
Today I got to the end of the day and was saddened that I had not made time for any true play with Miss Ellia. The closest I felt like we came was when she was holding my hand and twirling in church, which I love, until Nate tries to get involved and gets silly. I love her freedom to worship and flow with the music. Her dance is beautiful and makes my heart light – I imagine that it must be beautiful to God too. Today it was not long before Nate wanted to join Ellia and the moment was lost. Recently we were in a setting with a worship band that shed the formality and space constrictions of a church service and I was able to dance with her. It was so much fun to twirl with her, laughing and singing. Worship can be play. Leaving behind the everyday and focusing on the Giver of Joy is incredibly exhilarating.
Nate got a little more time. We played a home run derby of sorts outside while Elli played primarily in the sandbox. She wanted to play when we first started, but soon gets bored with baseball. The colors of their outfits against the greyness of the retaining wall were stunning. This was the first time that Nate and I were able to agree on a set of rule that were doable. He often likes to make rules and at time the rules are very farfetched and impossible to follow. While I know this is part of normal child development it is difficult to play with him in these situations. Today was different. It was a lot of fun. In our game, if you hit a single, you’d get one point, double – two, triple – three, homerun – four points. There were strikes if you swung and missed or hit a ball foul. After hitting the batter would run the bases, while the pitcher would chase down the ball and try to stop the runner. We played one and a half innings. Nate pulled ahead in his second at bat and felt good about the day. I was thrilled that he was connecting with the ball and that his pitches had improved – hence my batting did too (two home runs for this mama!). At one point I looked over and Elli had made a tree in the sandbox. She was totally engrossed in what she was creating. It felt good to be outside on this somewhat gloomy day, running and watching the kids play.