To My Child Who Plays For The Joy of Playing

To My Child Who Plays For The Joy of Playing


You are so different from Mommy who has always played to win.  My competitive nature has often been too much throughout my life, so much so that I consciously try to quell it when it comes to you and your siblings. Not you though, from a young age you have played games simply for the joy of playing them.  

In preschool you were often in trouble for knocking down other children’s block towers.  The problem was you did not understand that for them it was not fun to have the blocks knocked down. For you, the only reason you took the time to build a block tower at all was to knock it down.  

Along came car racing games where you only raced, if you can even call it that, so you could crash the cars.  We would watch, or try to play in frustration as you would crash over and over, or race the track backwards just for the fun of it. I always thought, “How could it possibly be fun to lose all the time?” In your mind it has never been about win or lose, but about the fun of just doing and being.

It saddens me that I often feel the need to try and explain, or justify your pleasant, noncompetitive nature.  I know that even I play to win and I see the looks and feel the frustrations of outsiders looking in who judge that lack of fire or competition in you. During those times, I too struggle to hide the frustration. But in those same moments I am awed by your pure contentment in being a part of each moment, and enjoying each moment for what it is. Your activities are supposed to be fun, youth sports should be a safe, fun environment. Not a blood bath of physical and emotional competition.

In every one of those situations I work to praise your joy of playing just to play.  It comes out in so many positive ways. You are the child happy to be in the wings of a game, not getting caught up in who has more playing time, or scores more points, or plays the most sought after position.  You shake every hand, pat every back, cheer every teammate. This is to be celebrated and I am awed by your unending positive support and good nature where many lack (even me).  We have seen you be both literally and figuratively shoved into the ground.  Where many would lie down and not get up, defeated by the blow, you rise to do it all over again (with a smile on your face).

These fun, easy going, people friendly traits I see in you now will serve you well in adulthood. You are your father’s child in those ways. Everyone likes to be around your dad, he is fun, easy going, not overly demanding, and always gives people the benefit of the doubt. You too are wonderful with people. So to you, my child who plays for the joy of playing, I love you for that, and while I worry that you may get trampled on by this often cut throat world, I have no doubt that you will pick yourself back up, dust yourself off, and continue to be a team player.