I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to stuff myself into one career or another.
Over the past 30 years I’ve tried without success to a banker, a newspaper reporter, president of an insurance company, a waitress, a store clerk, a magazine editor and a general flunky for three non-profit corporations.
My current job, which is the only one for which I was uniquely suited, is being a full-time, first class goof off. I’m doing really well at this job, but the pay is criminal, because there IS none!
And now I hear about a new discipline that was made just for me. It’s called “fun science.” I MAJORED in that at Ole Miss, but never dreamed I could actually make a living off it.
Out of the blue, enter Dr. Stuart Brown who I chanced to hear on an interview on Martha Stewart radio the other day. He is founder of the National Institute of Play and he builds a compelling case for the importance of recreational fun to success and creativity, and insists it is recommended for all ages.
CSI fans will be interested to note that he has examined the histories of murderers and has found that lack of play in childhood is a common denominator. Aha! I knew it. My first grade teacher came dangerously close to creating a murderer when she paddled me for talking when I should have been practicing my alphabet. And Daddy, aren’t you sorry you spanked me for cutting up in church? I was only trying to avoid a lifetime of crime!
A pioneer in research on play, Dr. Stuart Brown says humor, games, roughhousing, flirtation and fantasy are more than just fun. Plenty of play in childhood makes for happy, smart adults — and keeping it up can make us smarter at any age. (Hmm. I’ll have to mull that over, because based on the fun I’ve had, I should be a lot smarter.
Dr. Brown believes most adults have “forgotten” what it was like to engage in free play when they were kids. And truthfully, we may have not had much experience with free play when we were young. Beginning in preschool, the natural mayhem that 3-5 year olds engage in (normal rough and tumble play) is usually suppressed by a well meaning preschool teacher and parents who prefer quiet and order to the chaos that is typical of free childhood play.
He recommends “play hygiene” in preschools so that both parents and preschool teachers recognize the difference between dangerous out of control boundary-less anarchy, and normal play– diving, screaming, chasing, even some punching. When there are smiles and continuing friendships, rambunctious play is healthy. That’s why my high school chums and I get together every chance we get. We have “played together” our entire lives and we sure do want to get a little smarter.