Thursday, September 29, 2011

My Connections to Play

Play encompassed my childhood.  My older brother and I are only two years apart in age, therefore growing up, I often played with him.  We were friends, our friends were friends, and we had many friends in the neighborhood.  We spent most nights playing until we heard Mom yell that it was time for dinner.  We ate as fast as we could, and were back outside until the street lights turned on.  We played pretend, we played tag, we rode bikes, and we often explored.  I have many great memories from my childhood, and many of them involved the “adventures” we often went on. 
I remember one “adventure” I went on with my brother.  We were pretending we were the characters from Thunder Cats (one of our favorite shows at the time).  I was Cheetara.  Cheetara was a woman that looked like a cheetah, and used a stick to help her jump and move through the air quickly.  That day I had located the broom stick, removed the handle, and proceeded to use it has my stick.  All I needed was the porch as our hideout, front and back yard as our “adventure” land, our imaginations, and my stick.  For those two hours, I was no longer Kristen, I was Cheetara! 

During most of my play growing up, my older brother was definitely my support.  He was two years older than me, very smart, and very creative.  I learned so much from him.  My parents were also often great supports in play.  My mother often played as a mediator by settling arguments, enforcing the rules, giving us freedom, placing trust in us, and often making my brother and his friends include me.   My father often joined in with us.  I remember many occasions of my father chasing us around the local parks, building snow forts in the snow, and long sessions of outdoor laser tag. 

Now as a parent, I often find myself engaging in play in a similar was that my parents did with me as a child.  I find myself chasing my girls around the house calling myself the “Tickle Monster” just like my dad did.  I make Barbie homes with Tupperware the same way my mom did with me.  I even mimic holding The Old Maid card high into the air teasing my daughter about picking it.  Due to my education background and my current job as a therapist, I know how important play is for children, and I try to find every opportunity I can to engage my children and others in play. 
You can clearly see that in some home the true concept of play has taken on a whole new meaning today.  Kids are often “playing” with video games or computer games.  They often prefer watching television rather than play.  In my opinion these activities are not “play”  Children may be able to learn academics or problem solving through these, but play is completely different.  Play is able to provide a child with the ability to be creative and social beings.   Through play, children are also able to learn academics skills, problem solving, and so much more.  We need to take the time to provide settings in which are children are able to learn through play!  Even today, at the age of 30, I love to play!  I often feel like I am living again through my children.  The role of play has never left my life.  I may be somewhat a child at heart, but you have to have fun living the life you are living, no matter what your age is!
I am going to leave you with a couple quotes about play that I feel summarize and represent play for me.
“There comes a time in every rightly constructed boy's life that he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure.”  ~Mark Twain


  1. Great quote by Bill Cosby and I love how you focused on true play. It is very true that in our society today video games are considered authentic play but this overall type of play is not beneficial to child develop in most cases. Great Post!

  2. Kristen:
    I truly enjoyed your story... I can express you were Daddy's girl. You talk about him like an Idol.
    My dad, was not that playful, he tried.

  3. I smiled the entire time reading about Cheetara. I used to love playing outside and becoming different characters. We also played outside for hours and never got tired. Nowadays, I hear so often, I am bored, its too hot out, etc. I like the quote by Bill Cosby about how he had to share the streets with traffic.

  4. Your relationhip with your daughters remind me of my own relationship with mine. She is an only child and I often have to play with her. We also use materials round the house to build barbie homes and furniture. It sounds like you have a wonderful relationship with your children. I agree with what you said about children today spending most of their time playing video games or watching television. It is easy to let your children watch television, but truly important to have them engaged in play like activities.

  5. Kristen, I enjoyed your blog. My mom really understood how much I needed to have my alone time because I had seven brothers who were always trying to upset me. My dad was never around to play with, but my mom was all that I needed. I hope that I can give my daughter what my mom gave me a chance to be creative and use my imagination. Migdalia Perez

  6. Carrie Bell said:

    Kristen, I enjoyed your creativity in your blog with "Play." We had little things to play with growing up but all the children in the neighborhood played well together and got along well. Children today need more play in their lives, which play helps them learn social skills and how to deal with things in their lives. Being close with your brother is a great thing..I guess you played with many G- I-Joe's dolls?