“When I was down beside the sea
A wooden spade they gave to me.
To dig the sandy shore.”
Robert Louis Stevenson, A Child’s Garden of Verses

They–whoever they were–clearly did this child a good turn. They brought him to a good place, and they gave him a good ‘toy’–if we call it a toy.

The best ‘play’ is a kind of first exercise in the deeper things of life: such as playing house, or playing army. Or digging in the earth.

Children have a kind of natural fascination with many things, some of them good, some of them not. How they play, what they play and with whom they play will either bring out or pare back these fascinations.

Current customs, particularly because of the technologies involved, have taken an alarming turn toward replacing play with entertainment. Real play might be entertaining, but it is not simply entertainment. Watching a screen, or even pushing buttons on a screen–even though they be called ‘games’–fall short of being real play. Such is not how to have a first exercise in real life.

Plato insisted that we must be attentive to what and how children play. It might not be feasible completely to sidestep current technology-driven practices.

But it is still within our power to cultivate children’s good natural proclivities. In summer recreation and summer vacation we can good opportunity to minimize the technology, and to emphasize natural contexts for play. They are often right at hand. Our children’s response might surprise us. And one day, they might thank us.

R.L Stevenson (1850-1894) is the great Scottish author of Treasure Island, Kidnapped, A Child’s Garden of Verses, and other classics.

Image: Ruth Mary Hallock

NOTE: Next Wednesday I will be finishing a retreat at a Benedictine monastery in Oklahoma. I must skip that week’s Wednesday quote; please excuse my first skip in almost four years.

ALSO, BETHANY WEEKEND: We are happy and grateful that the first Bethany Weekend is full. We will let you know when the next weekend is scheduled.

Become A LifeCraft Member

Become a LifeCraft Member and gain access to our online courses and exclusive content. It's FREE of charge. Period.

If you join as a contributing member, you will help make this content available to an increasing audience. Your financial assistance enables me to spend more time in this work. I thank you in advance.

Join the LifeCraft community today and get access to:

  • Man of the Household (Course)
  • Woman of the Household (Course)
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:
Dead Time, Living Time, Technology, and Leisure

Dead Time, Living Time, Technology, and Leisure

“I have time when I am not conscious of time which presses in upon me in its empty quality, as lifeless time. He who has leisure thereby disposes of boundless time; he lives in the fullness of time, be he active or at rest.” Friedrich Juenger, The Failure of...

read more
Authority and the Gift of Fatherhood

Authority and the Gift of Fatherhood

There is perhaps no greater intimacy possible between men than when a son looks to a father from whom he has learned to be a father himself. This Father’s Day, in addition to remembering my own father, I am reflecting on the astounding gift, and challenge, of being a...

read more
Seeking the Unchanging in Bodily Things

Seeking the Unchanging in Bodily Things

“...it has been proved in the life of every man that though his loves are human, and therefore changeable, yet in proportion as he attaches them to things unchangeable, so they mature and broaden.” Hilaire Belloc, The Four Men Life today is characterized by mobility....

read more

Pin It on Pinterest