The Art of Play

The other day I took Archer down to La Jolla Cove when we were staying with my parents in San Diego. The seals come to the Cove to play and on this particular day the beach was covered with mothers and their calves. It was poignant for me because I must have visited the cove a hundred times in my life. Maybe more. But this was the first time I had brought Archer there. The first time I had ever seen the mothers with their new calves.

"Just like us!" I thought.

Archer and I watched from above as they chased after one another, making great waves with their fins. They nuzzled faces on the shore before pushing off awkwardly toward the water. Flapping around on their bellies toward the sea. Making waves. Having fun. Diving through the kelp garden and curling around rocks and playing hide and seek.

There was a not a mother seal in sight that wasn't playing. Not a mother who wasn't watching from the perimeter. Text-messaging her colleague or her husband. It was pure and natural and beautiful.

I am as guilty as anyone for being distracted from one world by another... Blackberry in my front pocket. Texting with one hand, pushing Archer on the swing with another.

It is a constant juggle for most parents and that's okay. But on this particular day I decided to take notes. To put my phone away and to lie in the grass and watch Archer splash puddles and get dirty and laugh. To live in the moment. Stop thinking about the book and how to fix the issue with chapter six. Stop thinking about the messages that are piling up and the emails and work... Stop... AND LOOK!

We have a lot to learn from nature. From watching the great creatures in the wild getting dirty in the sand with their babies. Making a mess. Joining in the fun. Chilling the fuck out and enjoying life, mud-splattering puddles and all.

Because nature truly is our greatest mother, and if she has any parenting tips for us, I do believe it has to do with getting off our computers and phones and playing. Really playing.

Our kids are growing up during a time so saturated in technology, their physical lives, I feel are at stake. It's a dangerous time for make-believe and rolling around in the grass. A dangerous time for parents, constantly struggling with distractions-- pulling away from our physical selves not to mention our children. Is play a dying art or just a soon-to-be forgotten one? Either way, it's pretty scary what has happened. What is happening.

It's easy to forget but I think, so important for us to put away our phones and computers and Blackberrys once in a while and get all dirty like. Because if we can't do that than what is the point? Of blogging and writing books and doing business and pulling in new clients? What's the point of even getting out of bed? Of having a family?

Children don't remember how their parents provided for them but they do remember climbing trees at Balboa park. They sure remember riding Dad across the beach like a pony and making mud pies after the rain.

And so I've decided that playing needs to be first priority. I'm pretty sure everything else can wait.



Russell | 1:19 AM

i certainly agree with what you wrote. while i was doing the mba, i participated in two part-time student weekend retreats. each one took place at a campground outside of nyc. aside from being a great way to meet other students and take part in some interesting workshops, they allowed us all to enjoy being a kid again. we took full advantage of the campgrounds and played all kinds of games (including a massive kickball game, which was awesome!). in fact, being able to play outside was probably my favorite aspect of them - at least that's what i remember most. too bad we reserve play for retreats, as i think we'd all benefit from more of it.

toyfoto | 4:33 AM

I think the biggest regret of all parents -- maybe even all people -- is not having lived in the moment.
Whether playing or just observing, it doesn't seem to matter, what we tend to regret is not really being there even though we followed along.

Woman on the Verge | 5:15 AM

A great post..and oh so true. It's so easy to become distracted by all of the outside responsibilities of our lives. We so easily forget that the most important things in our lives are right in front of our faces. Those little people need our undivided attention much more than anything else in our lives. They are only small once. You get that puddle only once...when you think of it in those terms, it becomes so much more important.

Sarahviz | 7:41 AM

Great post. It's so easy and convenient nowadays to become fully absorbed in technology. In our quests to go, go, go, our little ones are standing by the wayside, just hoping that we'll get off the computer, phone, Blackberry, etc. and sit down on the floor and PLAY or READ BOOKS or COLOR with them. I'm guilty of this as well, but I feel so much better when I just stop. and sit. and snuggle. with my children. Because that's ultimately what it's all about.

foodiemama | 8:14 AM

i can't agree more...most of the time nothing is more important than good old dirty fun!


"what we tend to regret is not really being there even though we followed along..."

As always, Toyfoto, you hit the nail on the head.

Namito | 10:57 AM

I hear you. Just being able to let go of everything so we CAN play, and be playful, is sometimes such a major hurdle.

So take a deep breath, and STOMP in those puddles! Or mud flats. Whatever you have...

jdg | 11:25 AM

I spent all morning tuesday flying a kite. hadn't done that in twenty years.

Jaelithe | 3:05 PM


PunditMom | 6:46 PM

You're right...everything else CAN wait, even tho' it doesn't feel like it to us with the writing. Enjoy your beautiful boy. PunditGirl and I had the day off today and are headed to see the King Tut exhibit this weekend. I think that's up a seven-year-old's alley! :)

Anonymous | 8:54 PM


Anonymous | 2:23 PM


I'll find myself typing away on the laptop, with LA Toddler asking me politely to come and play with her. If I hear myself saying, "Not right now, sweetie" it always sounds to me like it's coming from another person. Not me.

And I always tell myself, "What are you thinking?!" and I put my laptop down and I'll go play with the reason for my existence.