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Adulting: Reaching Out to Play...

I have an Auntie I don’t see very often, but I love her and she has a corner in my heart.

It’s all because she hid behind a department store clothing rack with me.

She’s not really my Aunt: she’s my Mom’s cousin, but my sister and I referred to her as our Aunt. And boy would my mom and her banter back and forth with each other: they were friends and still are today.

Back when malls were hopping and department stores were huge, all three of us were shopping, and my Mom had separated from us and gone to another section. We knew she was soon returning, so my Aunt looked at me and said, “Hey, let’s hide from your Mom and then jump out and surprise her.”

My heart soared. Here was an adult who knew how to have fun and play. As we huddled behind the layers of shirts, I felt the importance of being a co-conspirator. With an ADULT.

I share this story because I want to remind us (myself included) how those seemingly silly little moments we have with children – even children we don’t know very well, can be treasured and remembered. Dr. Stuart Brown, psychiatric, clinical researcher, and author of Play explains some of the benefits of (no surprise here) playing:

It’s voluntary, it’s pleasurable, it offers a sense of engagement, it takes you out of time. And the act itself is more important than the outcome.

I agree heartily that “act itself is more important than the outcome.” Because the impact can remain for years. I have forgotten a lot of moments in life, but that one with my Aunt is not one of them.

I watched the other day as my friend performed peek-a-boo in the store with a moody/crying toddler she didn’t even know. He started smiling back at her antics, and peace reigned in that little shopping aisle. I can’t help but compare that to my own moment with my Aunt. Who knows how my friend’s interaction will positively impact that child? Or his mother?

Just a few moments of fun, no matter how silly, are worth the effort.


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