Au Naturale Eye Essentials Kit

The Next Chapter: Play

My favorite museum in Rochester: The Strong National Museum of Play

"Life must be lived as play."


Ben fixing a yellow cab at the museum
July 2009

W Kids...the mini Wegmans at the museum for children
July 2009

It's Friday, and that means it's time to discuss another chapter of The Joy Diet by Martha Beck as part of Jamie Ridler's online book club for bloggers. This week's chapter discussed PLAY.

There were many points brought up in the book, but what I would like to focus on is how important play is to life. I have learned many wonderful things about myself and about my heart's desires in the past 7 weeks since I closed my business.

In addition to the extra time spent with my boys and on my other interests, such as writing and redecorating projects, I have been able to spend so much more time playing.

What a gift! Now instead of joining in Chutes and Ladders, Candy Land, Scrabble or Sequence every few games, I can sit all day on a rainy Saturday and play with the boys. We've made it a point to have regular family game time, whether it be a board game, baseball on the Wii, or playing tag outside (which, by the way, I stink at).

One thing I have been doing is recapturing the memories of my childhood and the importance of play even then.

We used to play games on the living room floor. My dad always cheated at Monopoly--borrowing money when one of us had to leave the room to go the bathroom. It was fun anyway. We also used to spend hours playing a game my dad called "Men." I don't know why it was called "Men", but I remember it was essentially bowling with a blue rubber ball to knock over our plastic dinosaurs.

"The true object of all human life is play."

~G. K. Chesterton

I remember watching my brother, Jeff, play games with his friends. They played Battleship, Stratego, and Risk at the kitchen table.

Memories of play as a child, though, also go back to watching the grown ups. My Grandma and her sisters Aunt Florence and Aunt Glady used to play Yahtzee together often while camping. I remember watching them have so much fun together. Grandma also liked to play Uno with us, and continued to enjoy this until her final years. My Mia and Popu (paternal grandparents) used to play bridge with their friends. Play has no age limits.

The last time we were at my cousin Kathy's house (she's my dad's cousin and is 30 years older than I am), we sat together laughing for hours just watching the boys play Guess Who with her daughter Amy (in her early 20s) and Amy's boyfriend, John. Kathy's husband, Bill, is like an uncle to the kids--almost a grandfather figure in their lives. He is retired and has a zest for life and will play a game called Huckle Buckle Beanstalk with the kiddos. There is joy in that house every time we visit because of the role play has in their lives each day.

Play fosters togetherness, builds trust and teamwork, and encourages communication. More often than not, play challenges the mind.

What would it be like is we all made it a point to play a bit each day?

My husband and the guys in our neighborhood get together and play cards each week over a couple beers. We all play a game called Ladder Ball (some call it ladder golf) together in the summer as well--several of us all playing together, laughing and chatting while the little ones play and are joyful as well. We have challenged each other on the Wii at holiday parties and sit around laughing and playing a game called Left, Right, Center.

In a world where some people don't even speak to their neighbors, we are very blessed. We have a great circle of friends and we make sure we play together. While we have fun, we also have formed strong bonds of friendship and trust and can always turn to one another in life's difficult times. Here we are--ranging in age from 32-50 with an occasional visit from our elderly neighbor, Mrs. Marzouk--all sharing life's joys, sorrows, and everything in between.

I know I am all over the place with this post today--I am just sort of typing about play as I think of the impact it has had on my own life. I guess I didn't even realize how the act of having fun and playing can have such a profound effect on the world in which we live.

While I'm posting, if you are in the Rochester area and ever have a chance, there is a wonderful museum in the city, The Strong National Museum of Play. We're members and take the boys there often. The name says it all--you play at the museum. You can climb Jack's beanstalk, drive a race car, do art projects, host your own cooking show, drive an airplane, play arcade games, walk along Sesame Street, and visit the town where the Berenstain bears reside. It's a wonderful place and we have just as much fun as Nicholas and Benjamin.

I leave you this morning with some favorite "play" pictures. Enjoy!

I remember playing with my brother...this was Christmas 1976! I am the one with the bulgy diapers...

My dad loved to play with Nick...he said how important it was for a kid to be a kid.
This picture was taken 5 years ago today. My Dad adored his grandson very much.

Brothers playing....