Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Playing sometimes get Tangled.

Being a stay-at-home Dad as well as a storyteller, I get to watch my kids more than, I think, the average working parents for the obvious reasons!  We play a lot and we always seem to make up stories to accompany the games.  Even games like "Guess Who!" a game with two boards covered in different faces.  Each player then picks a card with one of those faces on it and each player has to guess, by process of elimination, which 'face' their opponent has.  Who are these people and what do they do?  It is great to see kids playing and inventing stuff as they go.  When kids get together to play I love watching them explore the world around them.  Now the snow is on the ground and runny noses have begun, people are staying more indoors.  Dress-up brings new characters to life, interacting with other characters.  Situations arise and conflicts have to be resolved.  Why are the good guy's good and why are the bad guy's bad?
This came up over Thanksgiving when I went with some family members to see Tangled.  [Plot spoiler coming up.] The good guy is a bad guy.  The bad witch, on the surface, seems good to Rapunzel and most likely also to younger viewers.  The good guy is a thief who falls in love with the heroine.  The heroine is kept locked in a tower but is 'doted' on by her mother figure who 'loves' her so much she wants only to protect her.  All the while the witch keeps Rapunzel locked in the tower to use the girls magical hair to keep herself young.  The 'mothers' badness comes out later in the movie but progressively so it might not be caught by younger eyes and minds.  Likewise the good guy (who is bad, remember) also changes slowly. [Plot spoiler over.]
Watching the movie and talking about it on the way home and later made me think of the subtle nuances of human beings and how complicated we are. Then watching, over the last week or so, how children play to work these things out made me think how smart children can be when given the right environment to develop.
Another thought came to mind whilst all this was going on and that was that of plonking your kids down in front of a movie as a sitter.  We are all busy and we always have been.  As a stay-at-home dad, as with any parent, there are always things to do: grocery shopping, cleaning, laundry and buying and making things for the holidays (at this time of year). It has always been like this, but tv has not always been around.  I remember listening to the National Anthem at the end of the evening and the screen turning to snow for the night.  Kids shows came and went during the day.  Movies we usually saw in theatres.  So what did we do when mum was ironing or doing the dishes and dad was fixing something or cleaning the car?  We played or listened to the radio broadcasting stories (back in my day and not THAT long ago - 1970s). It seemed that we were together with parents doing stuff or playing outside or indoors with toys and games.  If the tv was on we all watched it as a family and talked about it afterward.  We laughed at the shows together and acted some out later.  This still happens I know, but I also wonder what we can do to make play time and tv time more of a family thing where it is done together.  The young man who invented tv saw it as a device to educate and bring people together, but it seems to be used as a tool to look after kids or keep them occupied when we are too tired to be with the kids.  Maybe if we all played more together we would find new energy.  If we opened ourselves up more to the children and allowed ourselves to play with them and BE PRESENT with them, we would awaken ourselves and be less uptight.  I know that when I 'surrender' myself to the kids and play I am a lot more happy and have more energy than when I am busy and keep saying 'in a minute, let me just...'.
And yes, that is a Disney Princess dress!