About a million years ago, I had a client who made a children’s toy designed to teach reading and spelling. The marketing message was that play is about more than fun and games; it can also tackle serious stuff, like learning basic skills. Makes sense.
But what about playtime for adults? I love to play like a kid (the fact that B. and I often act as if we’re six probably helps), although, clearly, learning to read and write has been checked off my to-do list. For me, then, play is all about fun and making nonsense. To wit, my perfect play date:
Color with abandon. Nope, not one of those made-for-adults coloring books. I’m talking freestyle coloring — extra points for using all the colors and for creating blooming blobs, shapeless shapes, and amazing mazes. You’re going to want the big box of crayons for this. Note: Do not let the dog eat the crayons to see what color poops out — you’re a grown-up, for heaven’s sake.
Skate in your socks. Okay, this is a favorite in our home, even if I’m not really good at it. The premise is simple. Wearing socks, push off on one foot and slide all the way across a room, attempting to crash into your playmate at the other end. Some caveats — only skate on a floor, not a carpet; and make sure you’re not barefoot (trust me, bare feet do not slide well). B. tells me that the look on my face while sailing across the floor is a mixture of absolute joy and utter terror. Once I reach him, I hold on for dear life, always somewhat surprised that I made it. (Based on her performance holding on for dear life in Titanic, I think that Kate Winslet should play me in Sock Skating: The Movie.)
Swing with friends. No, not that way (yes, we live in southern California, but still, ugh). I’m talking about going to the nearest playground or park and spending some time on the swing set. You can get really high. No, not that way (yes, we live in southern California, but still, no thanks). There’s nothing to match the sensation of soaring in a perfect arc, the wind in your face, the world streaming by, the … wait, are those the monkey bars? Race you!
Act out with shadow puppets. Especially enjoyable when your playmate is attempting to read in bed and you discover that making shadow puppets on the ceiling is unbelievably amusing (for you) and annoying (for said mate). You can make all kinds of creatures — dogs, dragons, bunny rabbits, butterflies. Really fun when your playmate joins in and you enact “my animals can take down your animals” matches. Winner gets treated to breakfast out — animal-shaped pancakes optional.
When it’s hard to forget the day-to-day drama, try to remember that the play’s the thing.
Share your toys.
ⓒ 2018 Claudia Grossman