08/07/2013 11:59 am ET Updated Oct 07, 2013

Let the Children Play

The Internet is abuzz with posts on parents unplugging, connecting more with their kids and being in the moment. It's all well and dandy, but what about just letting children play?

On days when we don't leave the house, my daughters enchant themselves in an imaginary world full of monsters, witches, fairies, babies, restauranteurs, artists, dancers, families, store owners, actors -- their imaginations run wild. Any of my attempts to engage them in another activity fail. Something tugs at me to engage them in something "more" meaningful and educational.

Then it dawns on me...

Who the heck am I to interrupt their work?

To put a pause on the very important work of their childhood, to impose on them something that's more easily learned their way than mine?

Who am I to speed them through their already too short childhood?

To stop them from having a day, an entire day all their own, where sisters are getting along?

Who am I to drag them here and there on my errands, to put check marks on my to-do list and not let them take me along to the places their imaginations are begging to go?

So, I let them play.

I set aside the urge to do "more" and relish in their wonder and creativity, their curiosity and kindness -- traits which must be nurtured, not stifled; empowered, not crushed. Characteristics which are the fertile ground for lifetime lovers of learning.

I throw more Legos their way. I bring out our parachute to roof their make-believe homes. I pretend to be Miss Clavel, à la Madeline, to lure them to eat and fuel their little bellies for more play -- Two straight lines! Two straight lines! I give them imaginary tickets to attend their big show. I ask them questions about these made up worlds and listen, LISTEN, to what they've got to say. I join in the fun from time to time but mostly I just let them play.

I let them play... Because there are days where I remember scolding more than laughing, saying "No," more than "Yes," and "Because I said so," more than "What do you think we should do?" I cuddle up to these days, a gift in the chaos of parenting.

I let them play because when they're my age and think back to being little people, I want them to remember days of endless playing, of made-up worlds and laughter. I want them to remember spinning in circles and falling into a heap on the ground, screaming and squealing and being terribly silly. There's time enough for those other things, a lifetime to do things more this and more that.

Right now. Today. It's for being children, for play.