I have been uncomfortable with “Playing” for most of my son’s childhood. When he was a baby, it didn’t seem to be a problem. Babies are easy. I can play with a baby because a lot of it is just letting them be and explore, and you get to smile big and talk a whole lot of non-sense in a high pitched voice, you get to be super-excited about anything, and we both get to drift into and out of each others realities as our attention spans are about the same.
And then, I’m not sure exactly when it became a point of contention. I have a couple of theories: I went back to work and the business of life took over, I was so lost in my own thoughts that it felt like an intrusion to make room for “Play”, I was self-conscious in the face of his imagination and wild creativity, I needed to have control over my environment and that rarely ever works with a toddler/child anywhere in said environment.
I also noticed that I would have physical sensations like “fight or flight” that put me instantly on edge and I wondered why on earth I would be having these panicked feelings while trying to play Little Heroes with my young child– I thought back to when I was a kid and remembered that to play in my home was to escape from whatever else could be going on in the house. I don’t ever remember playing with my parents so even the physical act of playing with my child felt as though it had no anchor in form – I really didn’t know what to do. Playing isn’t really playing when you are distracting yourself from pain – and here I was 30 years later, with a child of my own – and I couldn’t separate the two now, any more than I could then.
I *do* a lot as a parent. ( Says Every parent, Every Where ) I make sure everything is taken care of – I express my love daily, sometimes hourly, and I try to do all of the things that a “Good Parent” should do. But when it came to Being with my child – I was all too aware of what I wasn’t: I wasn’t Present. I was not looking at him, but through him to the ghosts of my past and it was a confusing time for both of us.
He couldn’t understand why Playing…Playing stressed me out so much and I was fighting within myself to just not be a you-know-what to my child while I was struggling with so much pain.
In my healing journey, I started to sort out all of the emotions that belonged to me and that which I was responsible for. I started to recognize our needs in the Present Moment and that I could learn to let all things fall away that was of the Past. I learned that healing for both of us had to happen in the Present and the way I could help make that happen was a Commitment to Play Every Day; to engage in connection in a conscious way, to accept, to create, to be open and let go of everything but now.
Playing is a lot more intensive than what we give children credit for. Making the decision to homeschool is my dedication that children Play to Learn, that they remain in that open space of Creating while they discover and manage their world…and here is my son teaching me something equally important as I Learn to Play – that I remain open to creating a new day with him, every day, because the Past No Longer Exists, unless I hold onto it in my mind.
But Everyday as I am Blessed to Play with my son, I let it all go and I open the space for Now.
It is no small task – but I’m blessed with an Amazing Teacher.