Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Laughter is the best medicine

One thing that my Dear Husband brought to our relationship from the very beginning lo these 16 years ago was a great sense of humor. He would make jokes when everything seemed dire to me, and it got me to loosen up a little, and then things got better. Over the years he's rubbed off on me, and now I make jokes when things seem dire to him, and he loosens up a little, and things get better.

Now we have our Dear Son, and tonight when I was soooo frustrated that he wouldn't even pick up the damn (scuse me, darn) train tracks and put them in the fricking basket right in front of him, I started joking. "Does the train track go here?" (I put it on his head.) "No," he laughs, "in the basket." "Oh, not here?" I put it on his knee. Laugh. "No, in the basket." "Ohhh," I say, "in the basket." So I sat in the basket. More laughter. "Not you in the basket, the train tracks in the basket." "Ohh, can you show me?" And thus some, if not all, of the train tracks got into the basket.

Which brings me to: Hospital Clowns.

Bet you didn't even know there was any such thing, did you? I think this is the coolest job ever. Clowns, who go into hospitals, and perform for the kids, pretending to be doctors. They perform kitty cat scans, red nose transplants, check to see if you are seeing spots (by holding up a polka-dotted handkerchief) (Oh, no, it's worse than I thought!). I think this is brilliant. It gives the kids a chance to laugh, which relaxes them, and lets their bodies heal. It gives them a feeling of control and power which they don't have the rest of the time in the hospital. It gives them a feeling of connection which is also lacking in the hospital. It takes their minds off their pain or illness for a while. It makes the families relax and laugh too. Brilliant! And the clowns aren't doctors like Patch Adams, they're performers who care about laughter as a means of connection, not put-downs. In Australia, they have clown doctors in every childrens' hospital in the country. Paid. Here in the 'States, I think it's more volunteer and occasional, not 9-5 M-F clowning for sick kids.

This is play in service to connection and belonging, hope and caring, laughter and joy. Hooray for Hospital Clowns, and all those like them who play for connection!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tub Time Play with the short one

I often feel like play is a lot of work. Especially when I need to play by my son's rules, which aren't always very clear, and often change. I like helping him build a train track, for example, but driving the trains around the track is boring, and when he doesn't let me move them because I'm not doing it right, it's downright frustrating. DH is great at the kind of play where he chases our son around the house, and I can do that some, but I get tired of it quickly.

But tonight, it was time for a bath, and DS was playing in the water. I sat down next to the tub, and joined in pouring water and suds into his boat. When I couldn't get the suds out of my cup, he washed them out for me. When I put some suds on him, he washed it off himself. We had a very warm, tender, connected time, I didn't feel bored, he didn't correct me (much), and neither of us wanted it to end.

What is the difference? I don't usually take baths or play with boats anywhere, so it's not the things we played with that made it fun. Why was it easier to engage him tonight? Maybe I didn't go into it with any expectations. I tried to meet him where he was, and just be with him. Maybe it was that he didn't have any expectations. He didn't ask me to play with him, he didn't have rules in his head already, so he was open to seeing what we could play together. Maybe the scent of the bubblebath made us both loopy! All I know is that's the kind of play I love, where we are both present, open, a little goofy, smiling and laughing a lot, loving a lot, enjoying each other a lot.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Play, it's the new work

So, I'm discovering that I feel the most joyful and connected and buoyant and myself when I'm playing and being creative. That, in fact, play and creativity can make room for things that need room to show up, like lightness and love and acceptance. And that I want to figure out how I can do that for a living. So, I want to study play a little. Talk to people who play. Find out how play can make work better, not just as a way to make the day suck a little less, but as a way to build community, increase work efficiency, and keep employees happy. If anyone has any ideas of anyone I could talk to about this, I would be indebted to you if you would share!

I have found out about a book called Play: How It Shapes The Brain, Opens The Imagination, and Invigorates The Soul, written by Stuart Brown, MD. I really want to read it, since this seems to be very much in line with my experience of play as essential to my emotional well-being. I have also been told about a book called Playing By Heart, The Vision And Practice Of Belonging, by Fred Donaldson. I think that aspect of play, the belonging and connection, are part of what calls me. Again, a book I want to read. Seems like a trip to a library and/or bookstore are coming up this week!

So, how do you play? I think that's something I want to explore too. What is play for me? I don't like a lot of games. I do like dancing, exploring ideas, being silly, roughhousing with my son, and the kind of game that promotes laughing more than winning. I don't want to have to figure out a lot of complicated rules, and I think the best play happens organically without a lot of rules ahead of time. Maybe that's why I don't often learn how to craft before jumping in, because I want it to unfold organically. Which means I'll never make a sweater I can wear. But I know that some people really enjoy games with lots of rules, and that playing those games makes them happy. So that's interesting, how play is different for different people, and how play can separate people and bring them together.