This is an experiment…

As I’m title-ing this very first post of my brand new blog, I find myself wondering how many millions of blogs must have started out with this very same title. I hate losing points for originality, but I feel like I’m probably in pretty good company. It seems to me that many of life’s great-big experiences feel like an experiment in the beginning: choosing a career, getting married, becoming a parent, writing a book blog… But in the end, things work out. Sometimes they work out really well.

Here’s my project: I’ve spent the last few years, and the last year especially, advocating for children’s play through my work with the fantastic nonprofit Sunflower Creative Arts. As my colleagues and I shared books and conversations and films about the importance of play in the lives of all children, and as I allowed play to be an absolute priority for my own children, I started to feel… well, honestly I started to feel a little left out.

You see, for children play is fun (of course), but also it’s creative and transcendent and social. It’s a way to try out different situations and roles/relationships–to experiment–in a safe environment. It’s a way to deal with, and make sense of, complex emotions. <–That’s my favorite. I can assure you–as an attachment parenting, stay-at-home mom to a six-year-old and a three-year-old (and as a generally passionate and thoughtful human being)–I have complex emotions. And no real outlet. Where, I wondered, was the play in my life?

If it wasn’t already there, I decided, I needed to go out and find it. And understand it. And figure out how all of us adults can (re)learn this seemingly simple, vital skill. That’s been my mission the past few months. So far the experiment is working out well–but hopefully this is just the start.

Fortunately, I believe I’ll have a lot of help in my journey… I have plenty of crazy, playful friends. Heck, I even have a friend with a college degree in play (true story!). I have a stack of research and thoughts by Michael Meyerhoff, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Darell Hammond… but even better, I have access to the world’s real leading play experts–the kids at Sunflower’s play-based co-op preschool program, where my younger daughter goes to ‘school.’ Not to mention the invaluable help of my six-year-old creative consultant and partner in crime. And my husband, who is whole-heartedly supportive of even my most random, off-the-wall ideas (even if he thinks they’re too crazy to actually join in himself).

So, this should be a pretty good adventure. Let the experiment begin…

 

© Jaime Greenberg and discovered in play, 2011

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