WATCH CHILDREN PLAY
My 7-year old daughter Sofie has commandeered a large cardboard box in our basement. It once housed a large appliance (I think it was for our washing machine), but in the months that she’s been playing with it, I’ve seen it become a boat, a house, a hair salon, a car, and a retail store. It’s now mostly in tatters and parts as she cut it apart more and more each time she found a new use for it.
Many times adults complain, “I wish I was given a proper instruction manual for living life!” We were, in the form of children playing.
When my daughter role-plays, she first becomes inspired, either by something she’s seen or she just has a compelling idea in her head. But then without too much planning, she springs into action and begins creating by inspiration. She pulls at the box to make walls. She asks me to cut holes for a window or a seat for the car (she became particularly inspired after watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang). She then grabs her crayons and draws in the rest of the storefront or roof for her house. After she has created the new idea, she begins talking and acting like a hair stylist, a storeowner, a boat captain, etc. She allows the inspired role-play to change her behavior and she asks me, her mother or her friend to join her in the make-believe. I have to admit I was hesitant when she asked me to be her first customer at the hair salon, but luckily she didn’t use scissors.
One time she asked me to be the audience for a circus show she and her friend had created. The main performance was mainly the both of them learning how to use a hula-hoop. As an adult, I could say it was quite sloppy and may have pointed out where she needed to improve her technique to be “helpful”. But that was not the point. Seeing her laugh and feeling the sheer fun of the moment was the point.
As adults, many of use have forgotten the point of living because we’ve become so attached to the details of our own role-play we’ve attracted to ourselves. And the more we say “This is not a game!” or “This is a matter of life and death!” or “This is my home that I’ve worked so hard for!” the more we squelch the joy of living fully in the moment and resign ourselves to having fun only during vacations.
You may say this instruction manual is unrealistic, that without hard work and attention to detail, you’ll never get ahead in this life. Many people believe this, and while those people may be financially successful, they may also have lost the ability to be generally happy and satisfied.
But there is the way shown by our children, in which one can be successful and live the life of their dreams because there is fun to be had. And if you think you can’t make any money playing, when multi-billionaire Richard Branson, CEO of the Virgin Music, thought of starting an airline, his staff disagreed. He then said “They weren’t happy with the word ‘fun’. To them, business was serious, It is. But, to me, having fun matters more.”
While in the middle of the circus performance, her friend had to leave for dinner. As quick as a wink my daughter dropped what they had created, not attached at all to the outcome. She would wake up the next day to re-create herself all over again.