On stress and the nature of child’s play

When was the last time you just sat and looked out the window? Or just lay on the grass, staring at the sky? For most of us, it was probably a long time ago — longer than we like to admit, maybe. With the constant demands of work, families, and life in general, there’s barely time to sit down and eat anymore. Or is there? Just how much of this “busyness” is forced on us and how much is choice?

I started asking myself these questions yesterday. Merry and Pippin were each entertaining themselves in our play area (a rare treat for us), and I was enjoying a cup of tea watching them from a distance.

Merry (6 months old) had imagined a tunnel system out of some dining chairs, and was crawling enthusiastically back and forth through her tunnel. She only stopped once in a while to examine the strap of Pippin’s booster seat hanging down from one of the chairs; she would swat at it a few times and laugh as it waved back and forth, and then go back to crawling in her tunnel. Meanwhile, Pippin (2 years old) was having the time of her life rolling a ball away from herself, and having it ricochet against the wall and come straight back to her. This scene continued for at least five minutes.

And as they were each mesmerized by their own activities, I became mesmerized watching them. I thought of other moments — moments that were very similar, but somehow passed unnoticed at the time. Moments like Pippin finding beauty in a blue sky with soft white clouds. Merry laying under a tree, staring intently at the leaves rustling in the wind. Pippin watching ants on a sidewalk, and curiously looking at a spider’s web. Merry eagerly cooing at a grocery list.

I realized something. These kids get it. They get life. Somewhere along the way, in the name of “maturity,” we lost it.

We need constant entertainment. We need immediate gratification. Everything has to be go go go. Our phones, tablets, and computers have to load within the second, otherwise our precious time has been wasted. We fill that time with one scheduled activity after another, never giving ourselves the chance to get “bored.” But have we really benefited?

We live in the age of information, when we have everything the generations of the past could have asked for: more information than we could learn in a lifetime, all at our fingertips, carried around in our pockets, accessible within seconds. Yet we spend all day looking at pictures of cats, and all night binging on Netflix. And on top of all that, we are stressed out. In the last 30 years, stress has been raised in status from an epidemic to a pandemic.

Perhaps our stress isn’t caused by over work. Maybe it’s not caused by sleep deprivation. Maybe we are lacking something that our kids have. We lack the ability to be fascinated by a ball rolling away from us and back again. We lack the patience needed to become aware of clouds changing shapes, moving slowly across the blue sky. We lack the understanding that all of this makes up our world, and perhaps without this understanding, we can never truly live.

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7 comments

  1. I love it! Beautifully written mashAllah. I really feel the benefit of slowing down when we go out into the countryside. There are less things to be distracted by (no wifi, limitted phone signal, no traffic, no billboards). It almost forces you to stop and reflect. Really enjoyed your post. Looking forward to the next 🙂 http://www.ourmuslimhomeschool.com

  2. The internet went down at our house one day and my nephews aged 10 sat looking miserable! They said they were bored. I replied when I was your age I use to use my imagination! How time has changed

  3. I am certain many share your chain of thought. Hopefully, we will find way in our adult life to fill the gap created by adult life.

  4. Mash’Allah what a great post.

    We lack the ability to be fascinated by a ball rolling away from us and back again. We lack the patience needed to become aware of clouds changing shapes, moving slowly across the blue sky. We lack the understanding that all of this makes up our world, and perhaps without this understanding, we can never truly live. – Hits the nail on the head!

    Love Aishah
    |*| www,grainsandgains.com |*|

  5. mashaa allah what a beautifully written post, I agree as adults we forget to take the time out to just enjoy the world around us. our minds are always full of things we need to do, sometimes its good to stop and breath the fresh air and smell the freshly cut grass and just be in that moment.
    http://www.themuslimahguide.com

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