We count ourselves super lucky that our new home is walking distance to our son’s school. Our daily commute involves nothing more than our own legs and the wheels of the stroller.
Having repeated this routine for a while now, I’ve come to see our walk to school as a beautiful moment of play in our day.
Our son has made up names for the puddles that appear in the gutter near clogged drains. He’s pretended the carpet of fallen red flower petals are lava, and gallantly skipped over them. He has halted our little travelling caravan and stuck his face close to the ground, to examine the squished dead bug being carried away by ants.
Together, we’ve noticed when things change in people’s yards. We’ve chatted to passing dogs. We’ve panted up the hill, pretending we couldn’t possibly make it to the top. On my walk back, alone, I’ve smiled at hedges of flowers that make me happy.
Instead of seeing these chunks of time as a daily commute, or a routine, or a necessity, I’ve come to see them as play. Play for both my son and myself. We follow our own ideas, interests and instincts on this daily walk, despite having a goal (ie. getting to school) at the end of it.
The things we do and talk about are both trivial and life-changing at the same time. Our walk to school is fertile ground for playfulness, with little else to do except put one foot in front of the other. It has been a joy to be able to recognise and honour these moments of play as they arise.
As Lester and Russell write,
“It emerges in the fabric of everyday life, and may appear to be ordinary and seemingly inconsequential. But as we developed this paper, we contended that moments of play have life enhancing properties that arise from this very ordinariness.”
A timely reminder that play is not a luxury, not an activity, not a moment laden with meaning. Play is peppered throughout our everyday, if we can recognise it.