The playwright George Bernard Shaw said “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing”.
And Plato is credited with the quote, “You can learn more about a person in an hour of play than you can in a year of conversation.”
Those are some pretty serious thoughts about play, but I believe they are both true. It’s funny; when people ask me if I have regrets in my life, my answer is NO. And yet, as I think of play, I think maybe my answer is YES. I might just have regrets. I don’t think I’ve played enough.
Don’t get me wrong. I do play, but I think there’s always room for more. When I think back to when my daughter was little, did I play enough? Could I have played more? When she wanted to play Barbies just a little longer, did I? At the time though, there was laundry to wash, meals to prepare, and a 100 other things on my to-do list. Looking back I wish I had played more.
Every summer at the pool I see dads playing with the kids, and I’ve always wondered why that is. If people are being fed, if diapers are being changed, if sunscreen is being applied,
9 times out of 10 Mom is doing it. If someone is being given a piggyback ride in the water, if a ball is being thrown, more often than not it is Dad. Why are most men instinctively better at playing than women? Is it nurture or nature? Are women groomed to be care-givers and are men groomed to be larger boys?
Are we women short-changing ourselves by always taking on the more serious role automatically? It’s not too late to shift the tides; there is still time to be silly, to lighten up, to have fun. And that is my goal.
The youngest 83-year-old I know makes time to enjoy an activity she loved as a child. Splashing in rain puddles. Bet you didn’t see that one coming! As a youngster she was scolded for such an act, but in her 80s she’s free to do as she pleases. So after a rain she pulls on rain boots and goes searching for just the right puddle. And when she finds it? You guessed it; she does exactly what her mama told her not to. And you know what: her face just beams as she splashes to her heart’s content.
I remember in elementary school learning about Ponce de Leon and how he spent years seriously searching for the Fountain of Youth. At that age I couldn’t imagine why anyone would need something like that. I was more concerned with getting out to recess and playtime. At my age now, it seems like the search was time well spent. But maybe in our quest for a literal fountain, we may have missed what’s right in front of us. The Fountain of Youth could just be disguised as something as unlikely as your everyday rain puddle.