The Importance of Play
I’ve been listening to Brene Brown’s audio book The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting, which talks about the importance of play. Did you know there is a difference between shame and guilt? Shame: ‘bad girl!’ Guilt: ‘love that girl but she made a bad choice.’ Brene is a shame researcher, and discovered that kids who are shamed by their parents are more likely to engage is high risk behaviour involving drugs, alcohol and sex, as well as being more likely to drop out of school earlier. Brene encourages parents to be mindful by not using shame as a parenting tool to control kids.
Brene also talks about cultivating wholeheartedness and something that stood out to me was the importance of play. Brene mentions Stuart Brown, a violence researcher, who discovered that something ‘violent offenders had in common was that play was very restricted or zero play at the hands of their parents… Stuart Brown argues that play is essential to developing creativity, empathy, trust, boundaries, part of how we exercise and grow our imagination.’ Another shame researcher says, ‘The opposite of play is not work, the opposite of play is depression.’
What is Play?
Stuart Brown doesn’t give a definition of play, rather he gives play the following properties:
- Play is time spent without purpose
- Play is something we engage in that we don’t want to end
- When we’re in play we lose a sense of our self and we don’t feel so inhibited
Brene discovered her family considered swimming, hiking and movies as play, so they plan their holidays around those activities.
I’m going camping with my family for 25 days over the summer! I thought I would survey my family, so I could include play in our holiday plans. I drew up a table with everyone’s play suggestions in the first column, and everyone’s names across the top of the table. I recorded their answers by putting a cross under their name, next to the activity if they agreed it was play. The play ideas that everyone in my family agreed on were: going out for dinner, BBQs with friends, chocolate, holidays, hanging with friends, laser tag, audio books and water parks! My least favourite play ideas contributed by my family were holding snakes, Superheroes and repeatedly circling around the couch! Perhaps you could ask members in your family what play is for them, and try and incorporate those things in to your school holiday activities?
A Random Story about a Lost Pet Snake called Jake
I agreed to my hubby Dan getting a pet snake, on the condition that if the pet snake ever got lost, that he would never, ever, and I mean EVER, be allowed to keep a snake in the house, ever again. For. Ever. Forever! On the same day we got Jake the Snake, after we put the kids to bed, Jake disappeared from his enclosure! There was no sight of him. Dan built the enclosure himself and was absolutely dumbfounded as to how he had escaped. I was standing on a chair, freaking out whilst googling how to find a lost pet snake- it’s apparently quite common!
So we woke up the kids and asked them if they wanted to sleep at grandma’s house next door, because the snake had escaped, and the younger two said yes, because any excuse to sleepover at grandma’s will do, whilst the older two said they didn’t mind if Jake crawled on them while they were asleep! So Dan was turning the house upside down like a maniac, frantically looking in the most likely places a pet snake would be hiding, according to google, like behind the fridge, behind the washing machine, on high shelves, etc. Dan also sprinkled flour in all the doorways so if the snake slithered through, we would see the tracks.
Jake the Snake Tracks
When it got to midnight I was really tired of standing on the chair, so I decided to go to bed. I was terrified, but really tired. So I moved the bed in to the middle of the room and placed plastic bags all around the bed, and in my mind, I thought that if the snake came slithering toward me, that I would hear the plastic bags rustling and, well, probably run for my life! I slept with the covers over my face, because I thought that might help to prevent the snake from slithering on my face.
Dan was determined to catch Jake, so he stayed up. Somewhere in the middle of the night, Dan thought he saw all these tracks in the flour in one of the bedrooms. So he stayed up with a torch, and was determined to get the snake. But after a few hours he fell asleep on the couch. Upon closer inspection in the morning, they were actually just tracks from those stupid black millipedes that have infested our property.
Jake is Found
Using my mind powers I convinced myself that Jake had escaped out in to the wild, so I could go about living my daily life, after reading horror stories online about lost pet snakes appearing a year later in cutlery drawers! So a week later Dan invited his friend over, who we consider a snake expert, because he doesn’t lose his pet snakes. Dan had left the enclosure open all week with snake food in it, hoping lure Jake back in to his home. I’d had play dates that week and other people’s kids had even gone in the enclosure looking for Jake. So anyway, Dan says to his friend, ‘I just don’t know where the snake could be?’ And his friend replies, ‘You mean that snake right there?’ And lo and behold, there appeareth a serpent creature that looked exactly like Jake, in Jake’s snake enclosure! Apparently, according to the snake expert, it WAS Jake the snake, and he had been hiding in a little crack between two pieces of wood in his enclosure, the WHOLE FREAKIN’ TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So, Dan looks at me and says, ‘I guess that means I can have more snakes in the house!’ Massive SIGH!!! I guess I will have to ‘play’ along and take a short course in amateur snake photography!