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Archive for the ‘your guide to perfect play dates’ Category

I went with the kids to stay at the beach on the weekend with our friends at their beach house. I don’t think I’ve ever arrived anywhere more worn out.

At one point my friend took my daughter to the shops with her while her teenage son took my four year old boy to play outside with him. I sat in front of a window, all by myself, looking out over the sea thinking I will just have a minute to take in the view and then I will finish reading this book I am reviewing. Two hours later I finally looked down from the sea to find the book in my lap.

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Cormac on the beach in the evening being very pensive.

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My friend’s teenage son helping Cormac cross the channel. It was deeper than we expected.

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Watching all the children swimming in the sea from my friend’s beach house verandah.

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Lauca and my friend’s daughter boogie boarding together.

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Horses in the sea.

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Cormac and one of our friends.

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Lauca learning to make twine as a form of active meditation. Yes.. that didn’t come from stressed out me.. that little intervention came from one of our friends. He’s Aboriginal and he taught her how to make a traditional form of string.

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I met up with Cristy (two peas no pod, Larvatus Prodeo etc) and her children last weekend at the beach.  We worked out we’ve been following one another’s blogging and writing for over eight years now .. and we’ve finally met in person.

Of course we got along like a house on fire. Our kids did too.

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Completely fascinating.

Even more important than creativity is the capacity to get along with other people, to care about them and to co-operate effectively with them. Children everywhere are born with a strong drive to play with other children and such play is the means by which they acquire social skills and practise fairness and morality. Play, by definition, is voluntary, which means that players are always free to quit. If you can’t quit, it’s not play. All players know that, and so they know that to keep the game going, they must keep the other players happy. The power to quit is what makes play the most democratic of all activities. When players disagree about how to play, they must negotiate their differences and arrive at compromises. Each player must recognise the capacities and desires of the others, so as not to hurt or offend them in ways that will lead them to quit. Failure to do so would end the game and leave the offender alone, which is powerful punishment for not attending to the others’ wishes and needs. The most fundamental social skill is the ability to get into other people’s minds, to see the world from their point of view. Without that, you can’t have a happy marriage, or good friends, or co-operative work partners. Children practise that skill continuously in their social play.

In play, children also learn how to control their impulses and follow rules. All play – even the wildest-looking varieties – has rules. A play-fight, for example, differs from a real fight in that the former has rules and the latter doesn’t. In the play-fight you cannot kick, bite, scratch, or really hurt the other person; and if you are the larger and stronger of the two, you must take special care to protect the other from harm. While the goal of a real fight is to end it by driving the other into submission, the goal of a play-fight is to prolong it by keeping the other happy.

From Peter Gray’s “Give childhood back to children: if we want our offspring to have happy, productive and moral lives, we must allow more time for play, not less” in The Independent.

 

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ff party

Last week a good friend invited my kids and I to a camping weekend party at her ex’s place. And I was like, sure, that sounds fun and quiet. When we arrived we found several hundred people, an old barn filled with props, lots of live music and a giant vegetarian kitchen tent and it was all more like a music festival.

Very fun, not so quiet.

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Cormac in the tent trying to get to sleep and worrying that he will miss out on the toasted marshmallows. He did.

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Lauca and my friend’s son swimming in the river.

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At my sister’s. Cormac entertaining his baby cousin.

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At my dear friend’s house for lunch. She puts on a nice spread.

(Note the dinosaur I’m having to look after in my bag. Sigh).

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cc breakfast

Almost once a week one of my dearest friends sleeps over. (She has this down to a fine art).

We have dinner with the children and maybe a game of Uno, then we put them to bed and stay up drinking champagne. When we are too tired to keep talking we collect a sleeping child each and put them in our beds; so, cuddled up to us they will sleep longer in the morning.

For breakfast, we are sometimes joined by another friend from afar via Skype. I don’t quite know what is in it for him, because.. chaos, but he doesn’t seem deterred.

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Here’s my special talent: knowing inexpensive ways to spend a day out.

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My friend walking with Cormac.

Lauca creek-walking.

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And then I actually fell asleep in the field for a while… like some kind of wood sprite.

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Woken by Cormac.

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This week I took the children back out to the country for the day. I really like being out of the city at the moment and these school holidays have been spent doing quiet things. This countryside is a bit over an hour’s drive from home.

I had spotted this abandoned homestead recently and was dying to explore it. But you never know how ‘abandoned’ old properties will actually be when you have to creep past a bunch of Keep Out Private Property signs to enter them, so I told the children to stick close to me in case there were wild cattle or old hermits with guns.

Lauca was furious with me for trespassing. When you’re eight years old rules are very important, and when your mother jokingly tells you and your little brother that she has a special license allowing her to trespass you will hiss at her in outrage.

Why am I the only sane one, she kept complaining, begging me to let her turn around and go back to the car. You will thank me for these kinds of adventures when you’re older, I promised. In the meantime, quit arguing, keep your voice low and catch up to me.

And then I managed to make her laugh and all was forgiven.

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Look! at these old stables above. How beautiful.

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A mob of kangaroos.

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Yes, and koalas in the area.

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My friend has banned toy weapons for her sons. I kind of haven’t but I still feel uneasy about it.

The other evening we are at the beach and my son finds a stick shaped exactly like a bow and her son finds a stick shaped exactly like a rifle… and that’s how that weapon ban is going.

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