Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Careers 101: Be a Player

I babysit Ronaldo a couple of afternoons a week after school. That's not his name, that's just what he likes to be called at the moment, after his current favourite soccer star. We don't watch TV, we don't use the computer, sometimes we read, or colour, or do crafts, but mostly, we play.

i say, old chap: let's all be frrrightfully silly!
We play "animal circus", when ALLLLL of the stuffed animals come off their shelves to perform. We play, with 97 tiny cars, everything from car zombies to race track to car construction site, where we build things, naturally, out of cars. We play safari. We play space explorers with Batman - we even made him a Lego rocket ship, because, don't you know, the batmobile can't go into space. We wear "superglasses"  (sunglasses with no lenses) that give us magical powers. Cushions become life rafts, child-sized table and chairs turn into a jeep. We're silly on purpose, because it's fun.

          "So, what did you do at school?" I asked Ronaldo one afternoon.

"Ummmm....nothing today", he answered.

          "Nothing? Are you sure? We always do something at my school", I commented.

Well, that stopped him dead in his tracks:

"YOU have to go to SCHOOL?" he asked.

          "Yes, of course - I'm the teacher!"

"A teacher? Oh, I thought you were a player". He went back to playing.

          Naturally, that stopped me in my tracks:

          "A player? And what's that?" I asked.

"Silly Billy, you know... It's someone who plays all day!"

Hmmm... sounds like a good job to me, especially since so often I forget to play. I take myself too seriously and fun falls by the wayside. I let daily routine turn into the drudgery of going through the motions instead of valuing it as time filled with possibilities and potential.

For me, babysitting is a reminder to get lost in the game, let my imagination run wild and enjoy singing ridiculous songs, pretending I'm scared of an imaginary fire-breathing shark, dancing around decked out with ten finger puppets and a crazy hat, taking a ride in a table-helicopter. Playing fills me with that excited and wonder-filled energy everyone under ten seems to have bubbling right below the surface at all times.

My advice for you? Go play!

Oh, and in case you were wondering, you fend off zombies with a hair dryer and a tennis racket.