RDP # 68: PLAY
Old English pleg(i)an ‘to exercise,’ plega ‘brisk movement,’ related to Middle Dutch pleien ‘leap for joy, dance.’
I like to watch little kids play when they don’t know they’re being watched. I love to see the imagination, the way they copy their elders, the way they play out a story they’ve heard. It tells you a lot about how they see us.
We had a therapist, now retired, who did a lot of play therapy. She had a room set up with all different kinds of toys where a child could go and do anything he wanted. The therapist and sometimes the parents, would watch the child through a two-way mirror. I don’t know a lot about this therapy, but I know it was helpful to the therapist in narrowing down possible causes of the child’s behavior, and helping the child get past a difficult period. That’s because the child would often recreate, in playing, what had happened that he perhaps could not express in words.
I have a granddaughter who loved to make plays out of TV programs or books. She would get her brothers involved, creating sets out of cardboard, making costumes, doing makeup. She, of course, was the writer, director, and producer 🙂 All three of them had parts, and they did a really good job. I think that’s all behind them now, and she is on to more serious writing. But playing out what they had read or seen was a great way of seeing what stood out to them, what they learned.
One of the saddest losses in reaching adulthood is the ability to engage in joyful, uninhibited play. Sports become more competitive. We play to win, not just for the joy of the game. We don’t always have time for anything that has no other purpose than just having fun.
I think it’s a shame. All work and no play, you know, makes a dull person out of anyone.