Playing After A Storm: A Family Story

How we can deal with a storm


The remnants of the storm Hurricane Matthew came through Hampton Roads, VA yesterday. From an adult perspective, it was no big deal for most of us. Some people in this area experienced flooding and loss of power, but no deaths or mass destruction (unlike Haiti and points south).

However, from a small child’s perspective (our oldest is four…and a half) — this was a big deal. The Sweet Girl (TSG) would NOT get out of the car last night without me carrying her. She was deathly afraid of the wind, rain and lightning despite all assurances to the contrary. With regard to medicine and storms, for all she knows, we are part of the Illuminati.

So, as children often do, The way she played this morning reflected that fear. I am including for contextual purposes only that we started out the morning with a few raging outbursts over the absence of chocolate chip resources in her pancake environment. Of course, as we realized later, this was not about pancakes. It was about the storm.

So, Mommy went to play with just TSG for a little while Daddy read to The Bug and finished something up. When I was called into the girls’ room after about 20 minutes, Mommy and TSG had codesigned a storm shelter design.

after the storm

We all took turns hiding together in the storm shelter, rebuilding, or being the tornado that destroyed the shelter. There was much laughter and pretending. We all gave stellar performances in the roles of “Baby”, “Big Sister”, and “Tickle Tornado”. It is important to have a strong cast to put on a solid production.

This, for the grillionth time, taught me how very powerful play is. We all do it. We all pretend in order to work things out that are too big and scary in REAL LIFE. This is something we do well not to lose when we become ADUUULLLTTTSSS.

Besides, adulting can really suck without joy, or laughter…and sometimes scotch.

Here is to tomorrow’s imagination. Here is to tomorrow’s play. I was going to say that they are important in tough times, too. I will say instead that imagination and play are especially important in tough times, or when we are afraid. We need not completely lose grip with reality, but we do need to see past reality.

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