When my grandson was about a year old, I introduced him to an Alexis to see what his reaction would be. I don’t know why I was surprised when he took to her right away. He sat her on his push toys and pushed Alexis around the room, picking her up when she fell and promptly seating her back to continue the ride. He would study her face and poke at her eyes and then he moved on to the next toddler thing to do. So, I decided I should dress this Alexis in more appropriate “boy wear” and braided her hair so she would be read for tough love.
My grandson, now about 2 ½ years old, moved away last year as my daughter received a great job offer in Virginia. She keeps me up to date and we Skype so I can still talk to my grandson. This week my daughter sent me this picture. She said that my grandson, Gunnar, pulled Alexis out of the bottom of his toy box and took careful effort to sit her up to watch him play with his cars. I’d like to think Alexis reminds him of his grandma, but most of all I love the story because it reflects a world where parents are more open to gender-neutral play. My grandson also plays with a 12” action figure, but neither are anything more than just Gunnar having the freedom to play and explore.
In a Psychology Today post on their website, Peter Gray Ph.D. wrote, “Play is, first and foremost, an expression of freedom. It is what one wants to do as opposed to what one is obliged to do. The joy of play is the ecstatic feeling of liberty. Play is not always accompanied by smiles and laughter, nor are smiles and laughter always signs of play; but play is always accompanied by a feeling of “Yes, this is what I want to do right now.” Players are free agents, not pawns in someone else’s game.”
Bravo Dr. Gray! Here’s to the freedom to play and a wish that you may…Play more.