After a mistimed nap, Tara was wide awake and asking – nay – demanding to go out to play. This was exacerbated by the fact that the two older siblings were out taking full advantage of the longer daylight. This led me to be following in her pursuit of the kids to join in their games.
I gotta admit, we seem to have a ‘different’ crop of kids around here for this generation. I remember when I was a teen, the kids seemed to only play street hockey and catch and nothing else. Not this lot.
They were playing a game based on a video game. It involved lots of drama, action, and most importantly, unfettered imagination. They were PLAYING.
Playing is an art I fear is dying due to the often over scheduled or isolated lives of kids these days. I am much relieved to see my kids have found neighbours who are just as much into imaginary play as they are. Let us not forget that they are school age. The age range there with Tara included, ran from 2.5 to 12. They were completely unselfconscious even when I arrived on the scene shadowing Tara. This made me smile.
Apparently this is the norm at school too. The kids have a long list of play based games that get rotated and pushed aside as they create new one’s. There seems to be little mockery from the more ‘grown up’ of the kids. The school seems to have done well cultivating a culture of fun and expression among their diverse students.
This joy of play is one of the reasons festivals like the Vancouver International Children’s Festival needs continuous support, as does the few child focused theatres like Carousel and Arts Umbrella. Children need the opportunities to see what play can be transformed into and what an active imagination can create.
We can’t let the art of play die. We need to create a space that doesn’t involve US. We need to be able to back away and let children be children. They need to create fun for themselves out of nothing. They need to be able to create something out of nothing. You can’t teach fun….you can only allow fun to be there for the kids and nurture it from a safe distance.