When I was little there were two kinds of play – Playing Out aka hiding in a bush flicking dog poo at passers by or Staying In which was well boring.
These days children use play to develop fine motor skills and creativity so that one day they can
hide in a bush and flick dog poo at passers by go to University.
Child Led Play
This is where children guide what happens when they play. In our house child led play means two things: Shit & death.
If we play Princesses or Fairies our names will be Princess Smelly Bum Bum or Fairy Poo Poo Pants.
Even a simple picnic can take a nasty turn. I will have to drink tea with poison in it or a worm, or a slug, or poo, or wee, or if I’m really lucky slug poo and worm wee, whatever it is it will make me poorly and I will have to die on the living room floor.
Invariably after any session of child led play you will be left typing ‘Is my child normal?’ into Google.
Creative Play & Craft
Let’s get this clear I’m not talking actual craft – handmade gifts which are sold in ‘those bloody shops’ as my fella calls them. ‘Those bloody shops’ that you always leave 30 quid lighter clasping a mini felted cabbage and a necklace made of recycled milk cartons in the shape of a rainbow unicorn.
I am a grown woman I do not need either of these things but I cannot not buy them. That and anything covered in Liberty fabric. If you covered a used tampon in Liberty fabric I would definitely at least stop and think about buying it. I love pretty crafty bits but that is not what we are talking about here. Crafting with children means this:
I have literally no fucking idea what it is but I’m sure the staff at pre school were smirking when they handed them out to all the parents.
I cannot understand why anyone would attempt to do craft with small children at home – maybe if there was some kind of chemical leak or Zombie attack and I’d been stuck in the house for at least 3 weeks I would be tempted. Basically there would have to be some kind of apocalyptic level of threat for me to get the craft box out. And then only if we’d run out of videos of people opening Kinder eggs on YouTube.
When the world ends I will go down making finger puppets.
Encouraging your children to bond with nature by exploring the outdoors through child led play.
= lots of washing + someone getting hit in the eye with a stick.
At some point you will find a worm that has been bitten in half, just keep telling yourself it was the cat. Nature play is the reason we have a cup full of dead bees in the kitchen.
Slow toys ‘ignite imagination and inspire creativity rather than just distracting’, those beautiful wooden toys you were given by people who don’t have children? They’re slow toys.
I love slow toys, they look great artfully stored in a vintage leather suitcase, but my children – who have no taste whatsoever much prefer plastic crap – if it hasn’t got Made in China stamped on it they’re not interested.
In defence of all the plastic crap at least when stuff breaks you can legitimately chuck it out rather than wooden toys which you have to keep under the spare bed in a Bag for Life for a minimum of 3 years.
Plus being hit full in the gob with a plastic toy might well ignite your imagination whereas taking a wooden train to the forehead will just inspire a trip to A&E.
Sometimes I need the children distracting because I have shit to do, sometimes I don’t even have shit to do I just want to be left alone for 5 bloody minutes and if a plastic unicorn with a light up horn is what it takes then bring on the dancing horses.
Messy play is a misnomer – it implies that there might be tidy play and there is not. If you haven’t experienced messy play you may want to sit down now, remember those deep breaths that got you through childbirth….
A messy play session is where you let children get stuck in to cement trays full of gunk (not cement), cooked spaghetti in glitter, huge buckets of jelly with toys inside, water trays, piles of flour and trays of paint on the floor.
I find messy play disturbing as I once interviewed a man who ran a fetish magazine about Sploshing* and also I hate washing and cleaning up. Children love it and it teaches them… er not sure what it teaches them apart from Mummy doesn’t like cuddling me when I’m covered in jelly.
*apologies to anyone who Googles this.
This is where children act out scenarios which are either bat shit crazy – we’re in a space rocket dancing with a dinosaur – or boring as hell – cafes/ schools/ mummies and daddies. Essentially pretend play means pretending to be interested in playing with your children.
Pretend play can also involve dressing up which is helpful because it teaches children an important life skill: fighting.
Those Black Friday news reports are nothing compared to the chaos caused by a group of 4 year olds fighting over an Elsa dress.
This type of playing always lands me in trouble like the time I pretended we were being chased by a tiger on our way to pre school in the hope we would get there quicker. Now it takes us twice as long as we have to stop and play with an imaginary tiger every bloody morning. Well done me.
Have fun playing!