“It is a happy talent to know how to play.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
I’ve been reading way too many child-rearing books recently. It’s comes with the territory of being a new mom and wanting to give your child every advantage in life. With all the advice I’ve read, one that strikes me as particularly solid is to foster your child’s creativity and problem-solving skills through free play. No one tells you what to do. You simply use your imagination and the environment around you as inspiration. There are no ribbons to be earned, no goal set at the end of the day. Just have fun.
I thrived on free play during my own childhood. I grew up in a rural area with a large back yard, plenty of toys, and enough siblings to start a basketball team. I spent time outside – pretending to run a restaurant, re-enacting my favorite cartoon scenes, and mucking around in the dirt. I spent time inside – constructing elaborate societies with colorful ponies, tracing the same pictures over and over onto lined paper, and trying to beat the high scores off pointless video games. The memories blur together into one happy kaleidoscope.