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Play With Everyone!

play-with-everyoneWhen I was growing up, I loved to play. I think that most kids do. I grew up in the country and had lots of long days playing outside. I have three brothers and although we didn’t always get along, playing together would eventually teach us how to get along with, take care of, and protect each other.

One activity I really enjoyed was Scouting. We played often at Scouting meetings and camp outs—while also learning a lot. Baden Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts, spoke of Scouting as a game with a purpose, and I have to admit I grew as a person even without knowing I was learning or developing character. I feel that like Scouting, play lets my son grow and learn to adapt to the world around him.

We took our son to play at the park and at a mall play area. It is so much fun watching him move around and choose where to go, what to do and who to play with. It is wonderful watching him explore with sand and water, although he is a mess when he is finished. He and I don’t seem to mind being messy.

He enjoys everything and everyone. He has a character and spirit that reminds me of my grandpa, who never met a stranger. He says hello and acknowledges everyone that he comes across. I wonder what he is thinking. Maybe “Wow, what should I do first?” Or, “Those kids look like new friends.” He tries keeping up with the big kids running and zooming down the slide, and then goes to greet every new parent and child that comes to play.

Many young children don’t seem to care who they play with—which is great! Thinking about recent events, it makes me wonder when society lost this open, non-judgmental friendliness. As children age, they sometimes begin not playing with others for a specific reason, and become exclusionary in who they play with. I can only guess that the reason this happens comes from experiences and what we learn from our parents. Young children of all nations, colors, and religions look past everything and seem to find the positive possibility of a play partner, new friend, or buddy even if just for a few moments. I hope to be able to foster openness to playing with anyone in my child as he grows up.

I’ve been accused of being a big kid even as an adult, and I hope that I can help shape my children’s learning through play like Scouting did for me. I wish my son never loses his character and continues to play, have fun, and enjoy learning from all of the people that he encounters in his life journey. Differences are something that make us special, and being friends with those who are different from us brings new experiences and learning so that we can all grow.


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Why I Love Playgroups

Playgroups are great for babies... but even greater for moms!Can I talk about how much I love other mothers? Because I really, really do.

When the pressures of being home alone with an infant most days proved too much for my nerves, I joined a local mom’s group. First we met for frozen yogurt in a very laid-back, non-committal sort of way. Then there were play dates at museums, parks, the zoo. It wasn’t long before we were sharing family potlucks and afternoons drinking coffee and eating homemade baked goodies in the comfort of my own and others’ homes, swapping clothes and baby carriers and sob stories.

And it has been such an absolute blessing.

I value not only the friendships I’m forging for myself (and the ones I’m hoping will blossom for Miss E when she gets a little older), but also the opportunities to see how other people parent. At least for me, this wasn’t something I really paid attention to until I had a child of my own. Sure, people I knew had kids, and I even knew a thing or two from working at 4C about how a child’s brain develops, but without a real stake in it myself, I didn’t really know how it was done.

If the mothers newly in my life have taught me anything, it’s that parenting is an art. The sort of art that tortures souls as often as it rewards them with previously unimaginable joys. Observing these mamas respond to tantrums and tears with such grace, with patience thread-thin after their child shows none, is an inspiration. It’s hard being a parent, and while they certainly don’t make it look easy, they make it look do-able. And that’s way more important.