Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The joy of play

It is a constant battlecry these days: kids aren't resilient enough.  There are all sorts of cautions against helicopter parents, rising anxiety rates and kids not being able to cope with life, the universe and everything.  Me, I work with kids and hear all the cautions and concerns but lately I've been watching something that gives me great joy: kids just playing.

Every morning I start my day on the playground watching kids before school.  There is often at least one kid who brings or finds a soccer ball and it begins.  It starts with kids breaking into sides on their own and the game begins.  There are no boundaries - the whole field above and beyond the two goals is fair ground and as more kids show up, they naturally break onto the teams to keep things even.  With no refs, no adults, no rule book, the sides ebb and flow with the number of kids who show up or wander off.

Disputes happen and get solved.  Sometimes not that well but, more often than not, with an incredible sense of fairness and justice that only kids really understand.  It ends when the whistle blows announcing to kids it's time to end things and line up.

Another game I have been watching is one I introduced from my childhood called "Fox and Geese."

When I was a kid, we had a tag game we played in the snow.  We'd all stomp out a huge circle with an X in the middle.  The fox had to stick to the X only but the geese had the run of the whole board.  If you got tagged by the fox, you became the fox and the fox became a goose.  Variants included you became an additional fox or you were out.   Most schools today have various things painted on the blacktop and we have 4 square boards.  As the 4 square games became more and more complicated to the point of most of recess being taken up by agreeing on the cornucopia of rules for each session, the level of frustration among kids was visible.

A couple of weeks ago, I introduced "Fox and Geese" on one of the 4 square board as an alternative game.  I laid out the basic and let the kids take it from there.  The younger kids tend to switch off where the tagged goose becomes a fox.  The older kids changed the name of the game to "Alien Invasion" and have incorporated all sorts of rules that include "so long as you can keep one foot on the cross lines, you can tag someone so long as you can reach them.

More importantly, I watch older kids play with little kids and listen to them laugh.

It reminds me this is what play looks like when adults just let kids be kids.  They make up games and rules and find a way to get beyond the grown up  "everyone's a winner" attitude to avoid hurt feelings.  The truth is sometimes you lose, sometimes your feelings get hurt and, almost all the time, you have a lot of fun or find something else to do that lets you have fun.

So yeah, put me down as someone who wants to say just let kids play.  It's amazing what they can learn when adults get out of the way.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Feeding The Lions

They circle around me.
Slowly, stealthily the move with 
Deliberate motion.

"Feed me meNOW," they cry
Spiraling in closer
Until finally they brush against my legs.

One in the front, one in the back, with 
Plaintive meows of the starving.
"Feed me, it's been nine whole hours,"
they complain.

The kibble crunches in the bowl and
I pivot to feed them, but two little bodies
Attached to two little heads block my path.

"Is that for me?" they cry.
"I have your breakfast,' I sing.
I make up the words to song tunes and
I feel as if it pleases them,  
so I keep singing.

Time to feed my lions and make them purr.
Time to feed my lions and stroke their fur.
They like their crunchings.
They like their munchings.
Time to fee my lions and make them purr.

A quick rub agains my legs tells me
they are pleased with their song and they part
like Moses parting the Red Sea
and let me place their food in their spot
as they turn back into 
my gray stripey Maine Coon cat and

his furry purry ball of love black cat brother.

The lions are gone...
for now.

Saturday, November 14, 2015


When the Tsarnaev brothers decided to attack the Boston Marathon, my world was literally shaken.  I still carry deep emotional scars that may never heal from that day and a boatload of guilt because I was not in Copley Square.  I was 8 miles away finishing packing up the Mile 18 water stop.

But still, the marathon is such an integral piece of me in ways I really can't fathom, I carry that burden as part of me.

So many things since then. So many bombs and attacks - both organized and disorganized and I struggle daily to process each new event as it comes.
Why is it people are so upset over a coffee cup when there is real persecution in the world?  Why do people declare false wars on what it means to be <insert some belief here> instead of fighting real wars of hatred and intolerance.

Each time I ask myself the same question: Why?

Each time I realize the same answer: No one really knows.

I continue to process but I feel like my emotions are constantly buffering like a computer that has exceeded its bandwidth.  What can be shelved?  What can be deleted?  What can integrated into the system?

In the end, the only thing I can do is keep being.  Keep trying to be the light in the darkness hoping others also follow that choice.  That they keep being a light in the darkness because maybe, just maybe, if we all keep choosing to be the light, the shadows will grow smaller and the light will grow stronger and the attacks will become less frequent.  So the next time any of us think dark thoughts ("It's their fault..."  "They are trying to oppress me...." and so on), turn it around.  Ask yourself if there is a better way to respond.

It's not easy.  I've been trying for two and a half years now.  There are days when it is easier than others, but I continue to try.

So I will spend some time knitting hats for babies today.  I encourage you to do something to be part of the light as well.

Sunday, November 1, 2015


It is a new month full of adventures.  I have already written a couple of hundred words on my new NaNo project and will soon get ready to go to my first official write in of the season.  Like my friends Boar and Bunny, a new month awaits that is both a little scary and a lot exciting and sure to be fun.