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An Adult’s Form of Parallel Play for Life?

Posted in Articles, Mixed Bag of Nuts

One of the phrases that came to mind this past Memorial Day weekend — while reflecting on the passing of my mother a few short months ago — is: Parallel Play.

“Parallel play is a form of play in which children play adjacent to each other, but do not try to influence one another’s behavior. Children usually play alone during parallel play but are interested in what other children are doing . . . . An observer will notice that the children occasionally see what the others are doing and then modify their play accordingly.”

Patty Jo was a very gentle, loving, supportive, humble, creative, generous, intentional, driven, hard working, encouraging, and extraordinary woman, right up until her final breaths in Houston, Texas, around kickoff time on Super Bowl Sunday.

Given her private and humble ways, I can hear her spirit saying, “oh come on now,” as I heap on these lifetime observations and this moment of well-deserved honor and praise.

One of her many gifts — as a elementary school teacher — was to understand what makes children tick. This gift enabled her to treat each of her own children, a dozen grandchildren, and her more than a thousand students as individuals with unique talents and needs.

She introduced the concept of “a child’s work” and “parallel play” to me when my four children were very young — the oldest to youngest only separated by five years, and I’ve never forgotten its importance to a child’s healthy growth and development.

Yet, I’m thinking a form of “parallel play” can continue throughout a lifetime, at least for me.

This concept comes to mind as my wife and I work in our yard together, rarely focused on beautifying the exact same aspect of the yard at any given moment, and without trying to influence the other’s specific approach to our yard work, our interest and observations of the other and our voluntary modifications demonstrate an invisible common bond and goal.

In another way, my siblings and I are all separated geographically, we lead our own very different lives, each pursuing unique goals and dreams, yet there is a genuine and often unspoken interest, respect, and observation of each other, sometimes leading to voluntary modifications, demonstrating an often invisible, yet real and common bond.

On that note, by brother Dave, an accomplished educator and award-winning artist and architect, recently entered the world of blogging, reluctantly he says, with the launch of his insightful Keep it Real venue, ironically, straight from Las Vegas, Nevada:

NeverGiveUp

And, just in case you’re wondering, that’s not Dave spread eagle, no one in our family, at least to my knowledge, enjoys that brand of flexibility, but he was in a position and sufficiently determined to capture the image on the “unreal” streets of Las Vegas.

So, if you’re interested in innocence, making, authorship, ownership, wilderness, and transparency, among other ideas, I encourage you to check it out, here.

And, I also encourage you to think about how “parallel play” might serve a continuing role in your personal and professional development as an adult.