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What Time is Recess?

I currently work at an elementary school as a teacher’s assistant. I am also a mother to an 8-year-old. I am fortunate to bear witness to the physical definition of play, beyond it being just a kindergarten sight word.

For 30 minutes of my workday I’m with kindergarteners, and every single day I walk out of that classroom thinking, “Man, teachers should be paid more” (seriously, they should). I also always walk out smiling and often laughing at the freedom they embody.

So unapologetically themselves.

Each one of them, just counting down the minutes until they can play at recess.

We’re all just counting down the minutes until we can play.

Play equals freedom to be our authentic selves.

At the end of every school day, my son asks: “Mom, can I go play on the playground?”

Truth be told, I've been the mom that tells him the playground is closed in an attempt to free myself from sitting there for 45 minutes.

But why? Why did I do this?

Obviously the first answer that comes to mind is: “Because I’m tired.” And honestly that is a true response—I AM tired, but how did I become a play thief?

He’s asking me to be free beyond the binds of long 6-hour school days where he’s not always free to just be. He’s asking to laugh and run freely with his friends, where no hand-raising is needed to accomplish a task. He’s wanting to express himself in one of the only ways he knows how—by playing.

He’s asking to freely be himself.

How can I turn that down?

Playful Days

We all work our asses off to reach moments of freedom. We all want to stretch out in our realness and show the world our truest colors because that is what comes naturally to every human being. We’re all begging to be our authentic selves 100% of the time; we just usually shove that feeling down in order to “pay the bills.”

That “I want to get away” feeling? That’s a nudge to show up for yourself, to take a break from what you’ve been made to feel is more important than existing just as you are.

The beach trip that you’re wanting to book looks so incredible because at the beach, you’re free.

Free from whatever stress is weighing on you at the moment. But that freedom is fleeting, isn’t it? You’ll leave your beach bungalow and return to your job, only to work your ass off again so you can plan a return to the same bungalow that helps you to feel more in touch with who you really are.

Look, I get it. We have to work to survive, and yes, that job may drown out the “good time” in you, but it is what pays for the beloved getaways. I don’t want you to quit your job, but I also don’t want you to quit your daydream. The past few weeks at work the students have been doing a lot of end-of-the-year testing. I’ve watched many amazing teachers incorporate play into their days to help alleviate stress for the kids. One teacher even brought in a bubble m