May/June 2007

I can't help but wonder: where we go from here. It seems society has drawn the line between work and play, and I have to wonder: If we were to use somewhat of a political analogy, which side would play be on. Would play be considered leftist and work be more to the right? Think about it. Most of us don't seem to blur the lines of play and work. They stay separate and distinct most of the time.

We compare the academic success of our children to that of children in other countries. Do you ever wonder how much the children in these countries actually play? Are they totally deprived of the opportunity so as not to risk academic failure? Or are there instances where they just blur the lines so they think work is play, or are they just so disciplined that play is scheduled in just as work is? 

It's hard to imagine a world with absolutely no play for a child. In some countries without the same resources readily at hand as we have in the United States, there is a lack of play structures such as the ones we have here. This definitely impedes the chance for play as our children know it. Children in these countries might just get a stick to play with instead of being able to go out and play on a slide. They may have the equipment, but it could be very primitive and unsafe. It may be similar to the playgrounds of the late 1800s, which were mainly wooden and on which children were likely sliver magnets as they played.

In this case, the grass is definitely not greener on the other side of the Earth, even though there may not be a time of year when the grass goes into a state of dormancy. There are so many people trying to improve conditions for play though. Take, for instance, Dr. Caroline Bauer in Chittagong, Bangladesh.

Last May we shared an article on play there. It was hard to distinguish where the cow pasture ended and the playground began (nothing against cows, but we don't often see them on a playground). Over the past year she has worked tirelessly to improve on the playground these children had at that time.

The difference is remarkable, and we will share it in the July issue. She has put in a lot of hard work for play and seems like a person who may have blurred the lines at times.

What a great example of dedication to play and to the children in her area. She is to be commended for her efforts.

Think about your area and what the children there have. Do they have the opportunity to play? I'm really not talking about 20 minutes a day either. We all have responsibilities, and that means children too. Maybe there are times when we need to turn work into play as much as possible; sometimes that means using a little imagination. My kids have certainly had more fun cleaning their bedrooms when they could make some type of game of it. Play takes the drudgery out of a lot of things.

I have always said, and I'm sure someone else has first, that when I die I certainly hope I will have lived. I have learned the importance of play in living, so I may have to alter that just a bit and say when I die, I hope I will have played. I have had plenty of times in my life when play was nonexistent. I hope that's not the case with any of you. Blur the lines if you have to so play lives in your world.