They’re Not Just Playing

It’s funny how twisted we seem to have gotten things over the years. “Epicurean,” for instance, means “hedonist” to most people…even though, as a philosophy, it was about finding joy in the simple, ordinary pleasures of self-discipline and a good life. So too with Stoicism, which people think means emotionlessness, when it fact it’s about processing and channeling those emotions. Leisure is another word we have gotten wrong. We think it means doing nothing. In fact, in Greek leisure is rendered as scholé—that is, school, something to learn from.

It’s important that we correct these errors as fathers, because we can deprive our children of critical opportunities. As Mr. Rogers points out, “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.”

When we give our kids time to imagine or a ride to cross country practice or let them have a friend over to spend the night, we are doing something important. When we get in the pool with them or go on a camping trip, we are having fun…and learning. It is serious work. They need time to play. This is their school. It’s how they learn about themselves, about life, about the importance of balance inside of life.

So remind yourself today that they’re not just playing. They’re doing their job. And it’s your job to let them.