The life of a child seems to be all play. Eating, dressing, walking, gardening, reading, and using a computer are all opportunities for play. This is the experience I have had this week with my family, especially my grandson.
Of course, not all play is easy or fun. Sometimes it is frustrating, difficult, hard and confusing. There can be tears and injuries too. Even adults experience this.
So, some stories from this week… given the freedom of a huge play space, with slides, climbing frames, tunnels and other children, my grandson spent hours exploring his limits, seeking contact with other children and occasionally checking that his grandparents were still around!
We watched Lego Movie 2 at the local Library Cinema. The theme was about the tensions and conflicts of play. At times it was scary and he sat curled up in his seat. But he stayed to the end.
On the allotment it was time to harvest rhubarb. I had not realised how hard it is to pull up rhubarb stalks. For a five year old it was like the enormous turnip. He succeeded at last, then fell on his bottom. He calculated that there were five different jobs involved in this exercise – pulling, topping and tailing, bagging, composting the leaves and carrying to the car.
One game the adults played was escape room. This was a combined birthday present. Five of us took part in an exercise based on Bletchley code breaking. We had been set a challenge of completing the escape within a hour and using less than three clues, to match the achievement of my middle daughter. We failed! We ran out of time just before we did the final code. WE GOT LOCKED IN! However, it was enjoyable, and I would recommend the experience. There are all sorts of escape rooms springing up, with different themes. It is an escape from reality in a way, but an exercise in team work, imagination and puzzle-solving. What is wrong in that?
Meanwhile, serious stuff was going on elsewhere. And we were aware of it. When protesters take time out to demonstrate that there is no escape from the damage to our planet if we do not act now this is serious play. When a comedian is elected President, politicians should sit up and take notice. When killings continue world-wide we know that some people prefer war to play, and find it hard to accept the actions or beliefs of others. It reminds me of the film War Game, when a computer has to learn that mutual assured destruction is not a game worth playing.
Play fair, play together, play well.