We Don’t Stop Playing Because We Grow Old

This week’s spin cycle theme is “grow”. Ginny Marie over at Lemon Drop Pie asks: “Are your kids growing like weeds? Are the weeds growing in your garden? Does your garden have vegetables growing? Or are the veggies in your fridge started to grow mold?” Since I don’t have kids, a garden or a fridge, I need to invent another topic to post about. After reading Ginny Marie’s contribution, I thought of something. I want to write about growing up, too, but I struggle. As a kid, I always feared growing up, because it’d mean I needed to stop playing.

For a long time, from around age twelve on, I thought playing meant you were childish and being childish meant you were bad. When I was eleven, the school psychologist wanted me to become a residential student at the school for the blind. My mother explained to me that I was troubled because I had too many toys. I till this day don’t see the connection. Sure, I had quite the toy collection, but so did other kids. Sure, I had trouble making friends, and my interests were not the same as those of my age peers. I doubt they were all into books, which my mother said I had to be into in order to fit in. Books or music. While my age peers in the neighborhood were into music, I didn’t fit in once I listened to the music they were into and had Backstreet Boys posters covering my walls. Not that this period lasted long, because I’d quickly had enough.

Besides, I wasn’t troubled because I had few friends. That wasn’t the reason the school psychologist wanted to institutionalize me. The reason was my meltdowns and tantrums, and I have no clue what they had to do with toys. Sure, I had a tantrum when my Barbie doll’s leg broke off, but I had and still have similar outbursts when my computer crashes. Maybe that means computers aren’t the right interest either.

However, I internalized the idea that to play is to be childish and to be childish is bad. I remember when I was thirteen I kept track of my behavior problems, like tantrums, and soon added any sort of childlike behavior, including playing with Barbie dolls. I was going to regular education in a month, and it had become very clear to me that regular kids my age don’t play with Barbie dolls.

Once at regular school, I listened to the right music and read the right books. It didn’t change my outcast status. It didn’t lessen my meltdowns. It didn’t make me not fear growing up. It did make me grow old. We don’t stop playing because we grow old, after all, but we grow old because we stop playing, according to George Bernard Shaw.

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9 thoughts on “We Don’t Stop Playing Because We Grow Old

  1. A very intense view on growing and growing up. I have had difficulty with meltdowns in my life, too. Years of counseling, PTSD treatments and proper medication finds me a calmer person enjoying playing.

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    1. Thanks for your comment. I too am calmer now that I’m on the right medication, though my years of therapy have not helped much in this respect. They have helped me accept my inner children though.

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  2. The only thing that changes as we become adults is that a lot of responsibilities come our way, but I don’t see why that should change the way we spend our free time. Aren’t engineers people who ‘play’ for living?

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  3. This is a thought provoking post here. I never stop playing. I grew up in a family where babies doesn’t stop coming. So I have someone to play with. And seeing adults play with toys are not weird. Funny enough when I became a mother I stopped playing not because I want to but theres just so much to do chores, task and some more chores. I am missing out on my son. Playing is a bonding time with me and my cousins in the past and now that I have my own son we cant do it. Sad. #PoCoLo

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  4. I grew up with few friends due to moving house, but it made me play all the more I guess until 12 years old and then I had pets! Pets can be played with luckily although I didn’t ever feel I was too old for them. Thought provoking post #PoCoLo

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