Play is for Everyone
Children love to play. That is an indisputable fact. Children may be unable to play in the traditional sense of the term depending on their situation but that doesn’t stop them from wanting to play, from playing anyways. Children love to have fun and play is one of the best forms of having fun. As Molly Knefel says in her piece “Kid Stuff”, “…children are primed for fun like coiled springs” (Knefel). It doesn’t matter where they are or what their situation is children love to play, to have fun, to laugh, to be silly.
Unfortunately, children are often stereotyped based off the color of their skin and their financial situation. People assume that poor black kids who are deemed “at risk” do not have the same potential to play as rich white kids. “The ‘at risk’ child is cast opposite the carefree child” (Knefel). The poor black kids are placed behind prison bars while the rich white kids are placed on monkey bars (Knefel).
Children’s love for play is not limited to the privileged few; it applies to all children, from all walks of life, all over the world. This can be seen in Butterfly’s posting “Play in my two Neighborhoods” on Serendip Studio. In her piece, Butterfly discusses her experience of play in the two towns she spent time in as a child, one her grandmother’s neighborhood in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and the other her home in Lynn, MA, USA.
In Butterfly’s grandmother’s neighborhood violence was a common threat and gunshots were not uncommon. But despite this the kids still just wanted to play. Even after being dragged inside because of a gun shot heard all Butterfly wanted to do was go back outside and play, go back outside and have fun (Butterfly).
In her own neighborhood in the US on a “quiet dead end street” Butterfly still had that same need to play, same need to go outside and have fun (Butterfly). As soon as her homework was done she would rush to the new playground with her friend and just play. Or she would do some other activity that used her creativity and was fun (Butterfly).
To Butterfly, it didn’t matter where she was, she still just simply wanted to play. She didn’t care about how safe her environment was. “Kids just want to play, and they’ll find a way to do so regardless” (Butterfly).
Butterfly’s story relates directly back to Knefel’s argument that kids want to play regardless of who or where they are. Children aren’t limited by their want to play or have fun, because those hold no limits. Children are limited by the restrictions and assumptions of adults placed upon them.
Adults’ assumptions “…turns their toy guns into real threats, their pool parties into emergencies” (Knefel). Even when children are forced into some violent stereotype their love for play, fun, and silliness remains unchanged. Knefel addresses this when talking about a group of kids she teaches who come from a poverty stricken community, that while she “…can’t think of a single carefree child, [she] also can’t think of one who wasn’t any fun at all” (Knefel).
Knefel tells about a game many of her students played called “’The Laughing Game’”. In this game the kids try to make each other laugh and they “…drop like flies and roll around on the floor holding their stomachs, a cartoon illustration of laughter” (Knefel). The kids, among hardship and negative stereotypes, still manage to have fun in its purest form. Fun is not discriminatory. Fun is not limited to those who can afford it. Fun is for everyone. Fun is for children of all backgrounds.
So why is it that people often categorize play and fun as something limited to the privileged? Why is it that the mainstream idea of play “…flattens all children into stock photos – white, typically developing, stereotypically gendered, and climbing on a well-maintained playground against a sunset” (Knefel)?
Play is for all. Fun is for all. Unlike adults, children do not limit themselves to the assumptions of others. Like in Butterfly’s piece, children find a way to have fun regardless of their location and relative safety.
The need and ability to play and have fun is ingrained in every child. It is not something they learn, it is something they are born with. Play gives children an opportunity to challenge themselves and to challenge others. It lets them learn valuable social and physical skills for the future.
Children “in their readiness to have fun and the enthusiasm in which they have it” show that play is not limited (Knefel). That fun is not limited. That you don’t have to be white, rich, and in a good, safe neighborhood to have fun and play.
Molly Knefel, "Kid Stuff," The New Inquiry (July, 2015).
Butterfly. "Play in my two Neighborhoods." Serendip Studio. N.p., 21 Sept. 2015. Web. 25 Sept. 2015. </oneworld/changing-our-story-2015/play-my-two-neighborhoods>.