Learning by playing

Now that I’ve “graduated” from my Improv 101 class, I’m even more into play and observing people. When I was a teaching, we always said that play was the “work” of young children. The championship titleholders for play and being in the moment are still kids.

Lower your sights–physically–and you’ll be sure to laugh out loud, smile, or at least feel the tug of those facial muscles turning upward. Come on, stop working or doing those worrisome “what ifs” and wile away some time watching kids.

Scene: My sweetie and I are eating lunch at the Rincon Mountain Grill at 49ers. A foursome sits at a table to my left. Well really, a 3 ½. In my imagination it’s Dad, a female friend, Grandpa, and a pint-sizer, maybe three years old.

Dad and female sit facing me. Pintsize sits on Dad’s lap, tapping glasses, giving two napkins to each person, and tilting the salt shaker. When those are removed from her reach, she’s got to move to the next level. She certainly is not ready to sit and talk and wait for food.

She slides off Dad’s lap and starts to wander. But not far. Little ones seem to have a certain distance they will go away from the locus of control. Then back to center (Dad). On her second foray out, she looks at me. I stare back with my happy face. She stops and backs up to a point where her line of vision is cut. She leans to the side and her eyes are hidden behind the back of Grandpa’s chair and his arm. She knows she’s safe even though her one leg is out in a kind of side arabesque. She can’t see me and her understanding of space is limited. So of course, from her perspective, I can’t see her. Leg down, she peeks; I give a sidelong long. I tilt my head slightly and smile, just a little. She hides. She peeks. I give a full on smile. Her little mouth opens in a small “O,” her eyes widen and… she smiles. My improv teacher would be so proud. A non-verbal scene is building. Aha! She is walking toward me.

“Food’s here,” says Grandpa. “Look what I got.” She’s gone.

Scene! Thwarted by dietary needs.

But still… a fun game.

Ethel Lee-Miller blogs regularly about people, the power of words, and the writing life. She is the author of Thinking of Miller Place, and Seedlings, Stories of Relationships.