WATCHING GROUP PLAY IN CHILDREN
Picking up my daughter from Kindergarten last Summer gave me the opportunity to witness some extraordinary group play among Sofie and her friends. The game was tag that involved a “home base.” If you were on home base (a large garden stone in the middle of the playground), you were “safe” and could not be tagged.
First, as they were running around they continued to yell out new rules. But these rules were not formed out of anxiety to control others, they were created to simply make the game more challenging and fun.
Second, at one point, Sofie stopped playing and sat down looking forlorn. Immediately her friends also stopped, walked over to her, and asked what was wrong. She complained she was having a hard time tagging some of the boys because they were running back to home base too fast. One of the boys offered to run slower, and another child suggested a new rule that required they be a certain distance from home base when they left it’s safety so my daughter had a better chance of tagging them. Satisfied with this new rule, Sofie sprang up and began playing again.
I stood there in amazement at what I had just witnessed. “If adults interacted with each other this way, imagine what the world would be like,” I said to myself.
Whether you realize this truth or not, life is a game – not that different than the one Sofie and her friends were playing. The rules constantly change, and sometimes they don’t make any sense. But what if rules were not made with the intention of controlling others, but with the intention of creating more opportunities to enjoy life? And what if people came together in genuine concern to simply help one another play this game to the best of their ability? How would following the inspiration provided by children be a game-changer for our grown-up world?
As I stood there in gratitude, I realized another truth: all of us came into this world already equipped with what we need in order to live our lives fully, and that is our connection to spirit. Children have a more pure connection to their spirit than many adults. Therefore rules and standards do not need to be imposed upon them and enforced by threats of negative consequences.
In the words of one of my favorite childhood movies: “You must unlearn what you have learned.”