Engaging in play

Melanie Sextro


A few weeks ago my boys and I were outside doing yard work. Well, I was doing yard work; they were busy doing excavations in the dirt and running around. After being out there for a while, one of them ran over to me and asked if I would show him how to do something cool. To which I quickly responded, “Of course! What did you have in mind?” In this moment, I obviously love the fact that he thinks I can show him something cool. We all know, in a few years, I will not be nearly as “cool,” if at all.

However, he then proceeds to ask me to show him how to do a cartwheel. “Umm…sure,” I said, completely uncertain of myself. Also, I momentarily remembered that I had not done a cartwheel in over 25 years. In having children though, I promised myself I would engage in the fun they wanted to have and participate in their lives, not just watch from the sidelines.

So, as I flipped my body around, legs barely making it into the air, not to mention the bizarre feeling of being inverted, I felt a sense of freedom and playfulness.


As my body was slowing coming back into equilibrium, I heard him say, “Wow! That was incredible! You are really good. Watch me!” Of course I was also thinking, “You are right, that WAS incredible! Wow, I cannot believe I just did that!” Watching him then continue to flip-flop across the yard brought me back to my childhood. It was simple, freeing and full of enjoyment.

God wants us to live fully and have some fun along the way! He wants us to work hard, but he also wants us to play hard and sometimes as adults we forget about taking time-out to play. Children have a way of breaking the everyday mundane routines of adults. I would have never thought to do a cartwheel out of the blue that day, or any day really, but it felt amazing and made me feel young inside.

Children help us take a more adventurous path to our intended destination. A path that is richer and fuller of life than we might normally have chosen. They help us let loose and show us that it is OK to have fun. As adults, we usually like to play things safe, and we can get into repetitive cycles: eating the same things, going to the same places, talking with the same people. We can also get into the habit of being too serious. Hardly ever do we veer off our paths to find something fun and fresh.

There are times as adults when we do need to be serious and act “normal.” Although, there are also times in which God wants us to have a little fun along the way, and children are great assets in helping us recall just how we go about doing that.

Make time for play. It does not even have to be anything that takes a lot of time (I think my cartwheel took all of two seconds). Something just a little fun and out of the ordinary can make an entire day brighter for you. And my son, well, he is still talking about it weeks later.

Melanie Sextro is a military wife and mother to two sweet boys. She is a member of St. Patrick Parish in Iowa City.

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