Letting Go of Control & Learning to Play.

My daughter is sick. My son is sick. I feel gross too and tired. Mainly tired. I slept for maybe 2 hours last night. Between multi-vomits, stuffy noses and Sofia the First I had glimpses of sleep. Sweet sweet sleep.

Today a package arrived for my daughter that housed her new Lego set… Mama was pumped! I love building Lego with my daughter. We chat, build, play, chat, build, play. It wasn’t always so light and fun. No, no. When we first started building Lego together I had some serious control issues that plagued our joyous fun.

Today though, I acknowledged to myself how far I have come. As she sat holding a small portion of the set we were working on I watched. I watched her play with the 1/10th of the complete set and I watched myself react to her stopping, again, to play. Again. The way I used to approach Lego when playing with my daughter was ~ we open each bag as we go, we build those pieces as per the instructions then proceed onto the next bag then the next and the next until the set is fully complete and then and only then shall we play with said set.Lego
This neurotic approach did not last long. Not one Lego set has been built this way. And therein lies the challenge for me (to my surprise and dismay) the control freak. I’ve become better at recognizing when my need to control pops up. I now know when to stop and shift gears but I haven’t always been so aware or patient.

At the beginning I’d cringe. I’d ask “why don’t we open each bag as we go?”. I’d want to organize all the sections, all the bits and pieces. I would open the instructions to page one where inevitably they would begin with building the people. She’d happily do that then skip to some random page and decide to build from there. “Ummm… what about all the stuff that comes before? Don’t we have to start at the beginning?” Nope. I gauged my heart rate and saw that this too was unsettling for my controlling nature. Onward. We’d build a section, a first floor, a storefront then… boom! “Mama you’re playing Stephanie and I’m Emma. Hiiiii Stephanie!”. Game on. “But we have building to do, there’s still building to do!” No, we play.Lego2
At first this would bother me. I wanted to start at the beginning, to open each bag as it was needed. I wanted the pieces to be in their proper places easy to find, I wanted to build beginning to end. Then and only then would we play, damn it. !!!

After many many sets and many many hours of observing her way of playing and my reaction to it I realized my conditioning is strong. We’re still deschooling so these light bulb moments are still frequent and powerful. They shift my foundation. I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful for my daughter who is so strong and firmly settled in her knowing of who she is that I am being guided by her to truly uncover who I am. Not who I was programmed to be.

This challenges the thought forms that were drilled into me from a very early age. Do what you are told, don’t question what is in front of you, finish what you started. Don’t question adults, respect your elders and so on and so on. We’re programmed to eat when not hungry, seek permission to speak when we’re bursting with ideas and creativity begging to be shared. We’re made to sit when we want to stand, be quiet when we want to sing. My daughter is growing up in a very different environment. She’s not being conditioned to stand when told, sit when told, eat when told, play when told. She’s free. Truly free. She flows between building and playing, make believe and present moment effortlessly, smoothly and without expectation. Even though my daughter knows her awesome Lego set is waiting to be built she chooses to have fun in the moment and all the way through, not just in the finished product. She doesn’t live in the future, she’s not striving for what will be she is absolutely being in what is. It’s incredible to witness. Her vibrancy is a blessing to see. And there are no arbitrary limits stifling this aliveness.

We moved into our present home over a year ago. We wanted more space, our second child was on his way and our large dogs loathed city life as did we. Upon moving in we designated a play room for the kids but the idea of play being limited to one room swiftly lost its hold and our house has literally become a play house. Every room has toys in it. There is Lego in the living room and my office. There is Playmobil set up in the play room and the common room just outside our bedroom. There are puzzles in the living room. There are crafts and books in the kitchen. Our tiny shelved bedroom closet is full of children’s books. The only large closet on the main floor in the living room was made into a Tickle Trunk filled with dresses, fairy wings, magic wands and costumes. This will all shift of course, over time. Things will change, Lego will move to another room, the tickle trunk too. And I’m OK with that now. I’ve learned to let go of my idea of what life is supposed to look like and love the way our life looks right now. I have my beautiful daughter to thank for that.

So now when she stops to play with 1/10th of the finished product I stop too. I stop trying to control. I stop myself from saying, “let’s keep building”. I stop thinking that the play comes after at the end, when everything is finished, polished and perfect. I stop myself from missing the beauty in the way she explores and plays. The point of toys and play is not the end result or perfection. It is to explore, create, take time, incorporate, grow, inspire new ideas, get messy… this is the point of life too. And to love it just the way it is.

Who knew Lego and Playmobil would help me learn to let go of control? I’m grateful to my daughter for helping me learn how to play again and I’m grateful we share joy and connection through play.

Letting go of control has allowed our life to flow easier like a beautiful river. Our days together are a celebration of play, learning through play, life and growing as a compassionate loving family. What more could we ask for.

Love to you all.

“Play keeps us vital and alive. It gives us an enthusiasm for life that is irreplaceable. Without it, life just doesn’t taste good” ~ Lucia Capocchione

“Creative work and critical thought, which produces new knowledge, can’t be conditioned; indeed, conditioning prevents these things from ever happening” ~ John Taylor Gatto

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