Wednesday, October 2, 2013

dare to play and an essay on Mamalode

I'm at Mamalode today. My essay When I was a Grown Up is being featured today along with the work of some truly fabulous writers for this month's theme: VENT  Click here to read the essay. Please feel free to re-post and share the piece from Mamalode's website. And definitely check out these wonderful Mamalode writers:

“The more opportunities we have, the more likely we are to be able to handle the unexpected.” 
-Gever Tulley, Beware, Dangerism!

On a recent walk through the woods at Emery Park in South Wales, NY, we came upon a clearing encircled by evergreens. A zombie playground punctuated the mowed grass. 'Can I sit on the swings?' Violet asked- not one to ever pass up a seat on a swing set- even if the seat grazed the ground. We assessed the rusted chains, the sharp peeling (probably lead based) paint,  the steep dip of the top bar- no longer joined with its support beams- the split seat. 'Sure. Go ahead.'

I typically tend to hold my breath while she plays with abandon on the playground- counting down the minutes until I've given her a fair amount of time and I can scoop her up and leave. The swing set reminded me of Gever Tulley's book 50 Dangerous Things (you should let your children do). While it wasn't quite up there with  Squash Pennies on a Railroad Track, Make a Bomb in a Bag or Lick a 9 Volt Battery, it was an opportunity to allow her to experience a sense of danger without completely throwing her in harm's way. Explore the unusual sensation of the rickety, unstable counter pull of the metal posts lifting off the ground as she tried to propel herself forward. Listen to the eerie un-dead groan of the chains as she reanimated them with her tiny weight while above our heads a hawk circled the metal carrion. Wrap her hands around the corroded place where hundreds of children- for decades before her- positioned their hands.

Those children probably grew up in an age when letting go was not tied to reservations about safety. It was the expectation. Go outside! Explore! Dare to play! Children are certainly better for it- for each chance to move, climb, experiment, search, navigate, get dirty, find themselves knee deep in creeks, color the sidewalk, deconstruct and reconstruct things, building a store of experiences to help them handle the unexpected.

On that note, we are off to lick some 9 Volt Batteries.