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  • Jesse Irizarry

No, They're Just Playing

Guy lifts weights. Maybe he isn’t all that consistent, but dammit he’s identified with it, at least when it suits him. Guy’s wife has their first kid. Guy buys stuffed pretend dumbbell and puts in baby’s hand. It starts… Kid gets older. Maybe his wife and him have another. Everything the kids do resembles weight lifting, guy records, and posts to social media. It’s all so cute that they are doing something that brings attention to daddy. Oh look, they’re picking up a heavy bag, its a deadlift. They’re picking up big rocks, its strongman training. One of them squatted down to pick up the food that fell out of their mouths. What a perfect sqaut.. What a weightlifter she’ll be. Why is it that everything the kids do has to parallel some made up all-important activity according to dad or mom? I caught myself doing this sometime back. I would have an excuse to see everything as some human performance training activity. It’s my business. But the more I looked the more I saw. They’re not training for strongman or Olympic weightlifting or powerlifting, and it’s not clever of me to draw parallels. They’re not doing stone carries, they’re throwing rocks down a hill. That’s it. They’re just playing.

Why do we have to assign something to their play? Much of kids play is practicing to be adults anyway. Why put more of the responsibility into it? We tell them that this will help them become a great so and so when they grow up. Why can’t the play just keep the creative parts of them alive as they mature? We give such importance to these activities. It’s all so paramount to us. We get upset when we don’t meet some expectation in it. It gives us anxiety. But what are we really doing, running around messing around with things? Look at what we’re doing, we’re lifting objects over our head to show everyone else we can do it. How is it different from a three-year-old picking up his plastic basketball hoop so show daddy how many muscles he has? It really isn’t’ all the different. And when you see it from this perspective it all seems pretty ridiculous. Because it is. But that’s OK that it is, as long as we concede that it is. Because then we can enjoy it all for what it really is. It’s play. And it’s not that serious. And we can be creative and connect with the child inside of us again. When we see our kids or someone else’s playing, there’s no reason to say that they are practicing for any adult made pretend work. They are just playing. Let them play and let it be whatever it is. And maybe you can do the same for yourself.

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