On Sunday we decorated The Parenting Place’s tree for the Rotary Lights display at Riverside Park. Many families showed up to hang the original, fun ornaments they had created, plus glittered pinecones, red bows and The Parenting Place name cards.
It looks terrific – truly a joint effort of young and old and our tree reflects this youthfulness and joy.
I smiled on my way home as I thought about this chilly early winter afternoon, hot chocolate and cookies to eat and drink, and work to be shared and enjoyed together – the significant word here being shared. When adults and children are both engaged in a mutual task, when the children’s efforts count and are appreciated, noticed and welcomed, team spirit is high and palpable.
After the tree was finished, treats enjoyed, pictures of all taken by two kindly passersby, some families had to leave – but to others, the empty space behind beckoned and the children were off. Several adults were there with them – chasing, playing tag, taking turns “being it” for awhile, green light – go!, red light- stop! The children could have kept this up all day, faces glowing, laughing, outsmarting the adults in their chase.
What occurred to me is that we need so much more of this. More times to work together, side by side, to play together, to enjoy and laugh and shriek with excitement together.
So much of our daily interaction with our children is maintenance – time to get up, put on your shoes, let’s go, get in the car, pick up your toys, wash your hands, get ready for bed, brush your teeth.
We need to make sure we find the times that can connect us .
In Playful Parenting by Lawrence J. Cohen, PH.D, he tells us” so many children’s games are about connection – chasing, tag, follow the leader and hide and seek are obvious examples. Play these games with your child and you’ll not only have fun, you’ll notice an improvement in your relationship with them.”
Cohen says, “Playing what they want to play and how they want to play it is our way of listening. The more we join children in their world, the more cooperative they’ll be when we drag them along to ours.”
What kinds of play can you enjoy with your children – spontaneously, forgetting momentarily the roles that separate you and losing yourselves in playing, laughing, silliness, enjoyment of the moment?
The next time you’re at the Playground, don’t just stand there – go up and down the slide with your child, swing high next to each other, play by their rules on their turf. Try making up funny songs when there’s chores to be done, telling corny jokes, making up silly names for things we have to do.
We’ll not only be having fun, getting things done, but we’ll be listening.
I wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving with much connection, sharing, playfulness – and listening.