Child’s Play


I’m not a parent, and actually from a young age I always knew I wasn’t going to have kids.  But I do have nieces and nephews (three of each) who are very special to me, not the least being my youngest niece, 18 month old L.  The reason she is so special is that I have been around to see her grow from birth, whereas the others are older and I have lived away from them.  The others, I got to see maybe a couple of times a year at most, although I should point out that L has older brothers nearby too who marvel at my inability to grasp the technological age.  But L is teaching me a few things about the simpler things of life.

Image via FibroTV

Recently I was at her house and L was playing with play doh that her mother had made for her.  I have to admit I looked at this pile of doh and thought L’s parents were a bit boring because they hadn’t coloured the doh.  But L didn’t mind.  She didn’t need the expensive, brightly colours, store-bought variety.  She was having a ball with what she had.  I also was thinking about how I knew you could buy equipment to play with play doh, and initially thought L had life a bit tough because she just had a few bottle tops, etc and a small rolling-pin.  But again, she didn’t mind and it was quite clear that actually she would be happy playing for hours.Outside L has a sand pit, made out of a very large old tyre.  I watched her there too, as she played.  Again she didn’t need expensive toys, she was happy just running her hands through the sand.  It made me realise how much fun she creates for herself out of very little.  I’m not at all saying she is in any way deprived but rather that there is joy in the simple things.

Recently I read a blog post about appreciating the simple things, and for the life of me I can’t find it again.  But one thing I remember is the point that if you set a young child in front of a sink of water they will be amused for hours.  Not me though, it might take my interest for a few seconds if it had bubbles in it but otherwise I would quickly lose interest and walk away.  The same with L’s older brothers who are 12 and 14.  They want the games, the computer, the television, the mobile phone.  They’ve been brought up exactly the same way as L, but now that they are older they want things to keep them entertained.

As I said, I’m not a parent and the last thing I would attempt to do is tell someone how to be a parent.  I have little idea.  But what I do know is that I need to find a way of finding the joy in the simple things.  Find pleasure in what I have rather than always wanting more.  Sometimes it’s all too easy to look at what other people have, and want what they have got.  Particularly when you’re on a low income, there’s a temptation to be envious of others.  I’m realising though that there is no need.  I don’t need the fancy, bright coloured, store-bought play doh.  The plain homemade doh is actually sufficient.

The other thing that L reminds me of is the need to be silly.  I was at her house, and she was laughing.  I have no idea what she was laughing about.  Was it me?  Was it her mum?  Maybe it was the cat or the chickens outside?  I don’t know but she was having fun, again with nothing.  Actually I really like being silly.  I always have, and I always will (hopefully).  I have a pretty broad imagination and use it to be silly.  I’m sure it’s healthy.

I have spoken about it in Silliness is good for my soul! and That Little Girl.  I need to keep reminding myself of this because it’s all too easy to think we need to be grown up, responsible, and serious.  But isn’t it captivating when a young child laughs at nothing?  It brings a sense of joy into the room, and we forget our inhibitions.

L is incredibly good for my mental health because she has the ability to be silly and encourage me to do the same.  Not only that but she can create joy out of everyday things.  She is also very quick to spread her love around.  She is quick to come to me for cuddle and just hangs on.  She doesn’t know the difficulties of trying to make ends met, deciding what to cook for dinner, or even wonder what she should do with her life.  She simply takes life as it comes.  Each day is a new adventure.  It’s really time I started following in her example… before she grows up and becomes like the rest of us.  Unfortunately it will happen way to quickly.


11 thoughts on “Child’s Play

  1. This is such a great post! L seems to be such an adorable little girl and definitely a wonderful boost to the soul when you’re around her. I get these feelings when I hang out with one of my cousin’s little kids (ages 6, 4, and 20 months). I have held them each as newborns, and watched as they have grown up before my eyes. They help me to enjoy the simple things too and make me remember what it was like to be a kid again. I have a fantasy world that I go into when I can, and it becomes my ‘playtime’. But, still there is nothing like hanging out with a young child who still marvels at all the small things in life. Your description of L’s enjoyment with the homemade play doh is so excellent. I could picture her playing with this gooey ball of fun, as well as laughing at that unknown source.

    I have always heard various versions of why young children of that age will laugh, when there is no obvious source for its cause. The Christian view is that it is angels that are playing with the child or hovering over her, and she sees them. They provide the child with comfort and friendship. Other views I have heard is that they are fairies who are hovering over the child and providing the child with companionship. Quite pleasant thoughts indeed.

    Thanks for sharing this post. I really enjoyed it and it made me smile throughout. 🙂

    1. Thanks Summer. I actually never realised how wonderful a child could be for my mental health until L came along. When I saw her brothers and my other neices and nephews I loved it but I just didn’t realise how good it is for me. I’m like you, I have my own fantasy world too, which most others would probably just say confirmed that I was crazy. But it is so good for me to have that and I think it is just letting my inner child have some fun after a long time of none. Has to be good for both of us. 🙂

  2. I often look back to my childhood and wish for the days when everything was so simple. We weren’t rich but we were comfortable, and I had good toys – a tiny tears doll, lego galore, Knex, a wooden train set – but I was never happier than when I was inside a big cardboard box, pretending to be an astronaut going to space. I especially love the boxes fruit came in because they made amazing cars. I’d draw doors and wheels on it and spend all day being a racing driver (I was a bit of a tomboy I guess!) or pushing our pet cat around the living room in it.

    This is why I love children. Everything’s wonderfully simple.

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