As I stood on the platform with my daughter Sarah, recently engaged to Zach, I had to pinch myself from the last couple of weeks of exciting news in our family. Our shoulders were touching as we spoke about the wedding planning that began yesterday with visits to a couple of venues and the lovely gowns Sarah tried on as I looked on with enthusiasm as the Mother-of-the-future-bride.
Sarah only had a couple of minutes before she and Zach were off to an appointment, so we spent those minutes looking at her glamorous wedding ring with awe. Both Sarah and I were glowing from ear to ear. Our daughter is getting married to a wonderful guy, Tom and I are gaining a son and Alex is getting a brother.
As I waited amongst the other passengers on the platform, a young child approached, walking hand-in-hand between Mother and Grandmother, sporting a fluffy pink bunny hat with floppy ears and attached below her chin. I commented to them that I loved the hat. Mom responded with a thank you.
I shared that the little girl looked to be 28 years younger than my daughter who recently got engaged. My spirits were still soaring from my time with Sarah. The girl’s Mother congratulated me and we began to chat. I learned the little girl’s name and shared, “I was a teacher and coach and now I am a play advocate.” I told them about co-founding “Let’s Play America” and thought, because of the girl’s age, they might be interested in hearing about my children’s book “Let’s Play at the Playground.” This book has full-page photos of real children playing with an inspirational sentence associated with each photo. The Grandmother responded, “She loves looking at photographs!” How easy and joyful it is to connect with others about play – those things that fill us with pleasure and satisfaction.
Readers, children love looking at photos of other children – especially when those photos are of children engaging in something that is so universal in children’s lives … play. If you are interested in purchasing a copy of my book reach out to me in a call, email or text: 301-928-9962 or [email protected]. I would gladly sign the book and write a message.
STAR BRIGHT BOOKS Publishing Company has my next book in draft form and it is called, “Let’s Play Outside.” Daniel Nakamura is the incredible photographer and the Co-Founder of our nonprofit www.letsplayamerica.org
My playful encounters that day did not stop there. Once I boarded the train and got seated, I observed a group of young super-seniors sitting together. (Because of my fondness for AARP I call folks 50 and over super-seniors) They were not loud, but because of proximity I could hear and see what a good time they were having together. They were munching on cheese and crackers and one of the women opened some wine to go with their refreshments.
As I wrote this column they were sharing stories, laughing and just having a jolly good time. Boy, was I curious where they were off to. One woman asked if anyone cared for some grapes. The men were enjoying themselves just as much as the women. I am guessing they were all good friends who knew each other well.
The mother and daughter from the platform walked by smiling. Likely the little girl felt more like moving around than sitting still for the ride. Who could blame her with all the excitement of a train ride?
The jubilant behavior of the super-seniors could not hold me back another minute. I got up and introduced myself. I shared my rack card (To see the rack card see my Winter column). Once I introduced myself, several of the playful people began sharing their story. They were from Roanoke, Virginia, heading to Washington, DC, for some fun. The group referred to themselves as the Magnificent, or Mags. The women had raised their now adult children together and many of them were also grandparents (You know the folks that are the happiest people on earth). The Mags were planning on seeing “Craig’s Aunt, Granny and the Boys” perform at the Showboat, an establishment that originally was a barbershop. How playful is this story? Unbelievable I would say. This jovial group of people, who had known each other for decades, knew play was still as important in their lives as it was for the little girl I had met earlier. They were traveling by train for a couple of days of fun and play in our nation's capital.
I have texted my husband and asked him if he would like to go hear “Granny and the Boys” this Sunday night. The experience sounded so inviting!
Laughter was continuing just a couple of rows ahead of me. It was so much fun to hear these super seniors have a good time. There are some folks behind me with children and they also seem to be enjoying themselves. Play is not reserved for children and playgrounds. Play can be found anywhere if we let it, and it enriches our lives.
Readers, whether you go on a train ride and engage in playful conversations, visit a playground, spend time doing something fun with old friends, or play with new friends - remember to laugh, play and enjoy the ride.
PS. I will be presenting with Dr. Patty Hohlbein at TASP/IPA Conference (The Study of Play/ The International Play Association Conference) in March at Harrisonburg, Virginia and again with Dr. Hohlbein and PhD Candidate Kerri Schiller at the US Play Coalition Conference in Clemson, SC.