N.A.M (09) The Art of Play…

Play seems so natural, so second nature.  We often comment how; “When we were kids (fill in the blank).”  We weren’t inhibited with lack of creativity.  We played in the woods, climbed trees, rode bikes to burger king by ourselves.  Were the days really that much safer?  Were we just more acutely aware? or Were our parents crazy?  Neither, we were kids who were kicked out of the house because TV was a waste of time, or the sun just stayed out longer and there were less things to distract us or pull us inside.  Whatever it was, we loved it, and we knew that playing was not scientific.  There was expression in play and we thrived.

I, along with my best friend; Jon, built rock cities, foraged the neighborhood park for trees to climb, girls to heckle and things we could jump off of.  We were full of adventure and daring.  When we met our children for the first time, we had to encourage their creative abilities.  At first it was a great chore.  Although our children were hurting, it seemed like they knew too much about “Spongebob.”  Yes they watched all sorts of TV before they met us, in fact I think that is all they did.  So in order to help stimulate and develop play for them we had to teach them how to play.  Their lack of early stimulation and love fueled their inability to develop proper motor skills and creative habits, so with adoption of older children we had to teach and instruct and show them how to play, just like you have to with an infant, it didn’t come as second nature.

We taught them to ride a bike, they ALL started with training wheels, now they ride without hands sometimes.  We even all rode a real life BMX track together.  The oldest 2 have mountain biked with me, and loved it.  Their motor skills were weak, their creative muscles lacked stimulation.   We had to give ideas to them at first.  If you want your children to have great fun playing, you have to teach them and then send them out to “BE” until they get bored then encourage them with an idea send them back outside to “BE” some more, until they  learn that boredom is relative and not an option.   Silence is not the same as boredom, boredom stems from a lack of creativity.  Boredom is not an action, it is a state of your mind.  Idle hands make waste.  (good ole mom sayings)

It was hard not just wanting to turn the TV on (my wife and I agreed early on that TV would not be the focus of our kids creative lives but a very rare release for them), so it quickly became a non-option for their day.  They know this and thus have adjusted and would now rather; read, go outside and catch bugs, ride their bikes, climb a tree, move dirt with their dump trucks, design castles and have tea parties than think about watching TV, although they enjoy an occasional family movie.

Playing is an Artform…but a learned artform!

Play is not as natural a thing for us, take a look at infants for example. We teach and expect parents to teach their babies how to play and why should we expect anything different for adoptive parents of older children, it just seems natural.

Play is a learned behavior, even though most of us would say it’s second nature, because that’s the idea.  We teach something so that it will one day become second nature.

We’re in this together….I’m pulling for you!

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