Tuesday, January 21, 2014

"Wanna come over and play?"

Back when I was a kid at Hillcrest Elementary, recess was the time when my friends and I would leave behind our classwork and run all over the blacktop and playground. I played airplanes with Evan and Chad in 3rd grade. The girls owned the monkey bars and created spinning-swinging-flipping routines. There were afternoons of the Capture the Bottle and pumping so hard on the swings that we were sure we would actually flip over the top. Recess was the best wasn't it?

Last week I was making a collage for Julia's birthday and found the words, "Recess is Back" in an advertisement. I ripped out the page right away so I could use it. Recess in back. I love the idea that recess is more than just 45 minutes during your day in elementary school. What if recess is the way we look at our free time? What if recess is our attitude?

When my class and I graduated to Delphi Middle School recess disappeared from our schedule. We started "hanging out" with people instead of "playing." I think everyone gets to that point when they start acting like a grown up, whatever that means. They lose a part of the kid who used to run around chasing their friends all over the playground while playing Cartoon Tag. Suddenly recess and fun and make believe are frivolous things that no one has time for anymore.

Tonight Milly laughed when I said something about playing with Young Life girls instead of just saying that we were hanging out. I think it's important that we play. If we want to be about whimsy, about dance parties and taking opportunities, about bringing more color and more flavor and more adventure to this life then we have got to play. We have to bring back recess, even if it's just for five minutes in our day.

It'll look a little different than when we formed secret clubs in the highest tower of the playground. Today playing looked like showing up at Julia Plant's swim meet, hugging Rachel and Anna, and cheering on the swimmers with Milly and Julia. Tonight we played by laughing at dinner and starting new bracelets for friends who really, really want them. Recess can still be the best part of the day even when you're all grown up. Recess is back for good.

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