Take Time To Play
Updated: May 27
I’ve recently been listening to a speaker named Michael Yaconelli. In one of his talks, he shares a story about building a sandcastle.
At the time, Michael was at the beach with his family on the Oregon coast. His children were grown up, however, that didn’t stop them from taking time to play! One of Michael’s sons suggested that they build a sandcastle close to the shore. He placed his shirt on a stick, stuck it in the sand and stated, “If the waves knock this flag over, the sand turns into poison and we all die!”
Michael’s family quickly got to work! They made three walls to ensure the waves wouldn’t be able to knock the flag over.
While they were working, Michael noticed a small boy, about five years old, walking on the beach with his Dad. Michael ran over to the boy and invited him to help with the challenge. The boy seemed a little intimidated by Michael and ignored his request.
A few minutes later, Michael noticed the little boy playing near the water. He would chase a wave towards the ocean and then run back when a new wave hit the shore. This continued until a wave caught the boy and tossed him onto the sand. Soaked and covered in mud, the dad said, “Andy, you get over here right now.”
That was all Michael needed to hear … the boys name! He rushed over to the boy and said, “Look Andy, you’re already wet. Please come over and help us.”
Andy looked at his dad. Then back at Michael and said, “Okay!” The two of them rushed over and continued to help Michael’s family. Soon, a large wave was coming towards the sandcastle. Without thinking, everyone ran to the middle of the sandcastle and huddled around the flag. The wave crashed over the first wall, then the second and eventually the third; however, the flag remained standing! Everyone yelled, “Yahoo” and patiently waited for the next wave.
At this time, however, Andy's dad had seen enough. He said again, “Andy, you get over here right now.” With tears swelling in his eyes, Andy said, “Sorry mister” to Michael and walked away.
Michael ends his talk with the simple question, “If you can’t build a sandcastle when you’re five, when can you?”
It seems that we are asking children to grow up younger and younger. “No you can’t go to the park. You have too much homework.” We expect much of the little ones in our classes, yet at what cost? Maria Montessori said, “Play is the work of children.” Mr. Rogers shared something similar when he said, “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”
I also wonder if as adults, we have forgotten how to play too. It seems there is no time for “fun” because there is work to be done. Dishes to be washed, meals to be cooked, lessons to plan, tests to mark, etc. These are all important things, yet should they take up all our time? What if we took some time to simply play?
In a different talk, Michael shares how it is such a shame that we no longer play as adults. When we are kids, we aren’t very good at it. Think of hide-and-seek. As kids, we hide behind a tree and think no one will ever see us. However, as adults, we could probably come up with some amazing places to hide!
I hope that in our world, children and adults will be given time to play. Whether it's playing hide and seek, running through the sprinkler or jumping on the bed, these activities help us remain young and keep the sparkle in our eyes!