April Fool’s Family Fun
By Steven Sellars
In the 1991 the movie, “Hook” starring the late-great Robin Williams as Peter Pan had present day Peter as a grown up, a middle-aged workaholic lawyer with a cell phone and very stressed, engaged in arguing with his family. Peter had lost his magic, lost his play, lost his imagination, and was losing his family. They say he got old, lazy and boring. That was until Captain Hook showed up and caused trouble. Hook captured Peter’s children.
The movie came alive when Peter, with the help of Tinkerbell, goes to Neverland to rescue his kids and sees that Hook has won his kids over. Hook began to do the things the kids enjoyed to do. Peter meets Hook and tries to rescue his kids, however, old man Peter can’t do it, he is weak and has no power, no magic. That is, until the Lost Boys (along with Tink) remind him that the secret of his magic was still there. The transformation happens as the adult Peter Pan remembers that his magic is generated when he imagines and pretend, when he isn’t afraid to play and “be the fool.” It didn’t cost him anything except his grown up pride and sense of vulnerability and when he gave up the adult and became the kid again he actually became Peter Pan again.
Play therapy is a therapeutic interventions we provide for our kids at the clinic. It is more than talking about their problems. Play creates the sacred space of trust, mindful exploration while pretending, drawing, crafts, and many other things. For the clinician, play creates space for the child to be a kid without the talking. Playing frees the mind to open up to other things including conversations. Whether in the clinic setting or at home, when a child sees and experiences fun activity, something they enjoy and identify with while the adult or parent participates, it creates this wonderful space for openness and opportunity. In fact, using our own creativity and imagination is good for the adult, too. It diminishes stress, worry and anxiety. We are using parts of us that we have put away in our stressful lives. Hearing the laughter of a child, seeing the joy on their faces as you are engaged in pretend changes the atmosphere of both their world and yours.
Ideas to engage in play:
It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Be creative! Summer is coming, plan to play outside with your children. Outdoors you can use sports equipment, go for walks, pick up rocks and start a rock collection. Why not go to one of the many parks in your area. It is fun to wash the car together and expect to get wet on purpose! Challenge yourself and the children to learn a new game; a board game or card game. Play with your child on a video game or spend time watching them play their video game. Many children will say how much it meant to them that their parent actually sat and watched them play. There’s always Legos and playing in the dirt with Hot Wheels cars. On a breezy day, fly a kite, throw a ball, and play the sport your child likes. When it’s raining lightly, children have fun going outside and get soaking wet with a bit of play in the puddles too!
Play only involves time, effort and energy all of which is absolutely worth it. These times play interaction and allowing your child to see you play, is always beneficial.
Don’t be afraid to put down the phone, the remote, the bills, and just play and pretend. These few minutes of fun have a lasting impact.
Be your kid’s Peter Pan while you can!