Note: I’ve decided to start turning a stack of stories about moments of play I’ve observed into short posts here at Playvolution HQ. This is the first of those posts.
Out four a walk with my pups the other day, I observed two boys at play with a long hunk of rope.
One end was tied about six foot up a telephone pole. About 10 yards away, the older boy–maybe 9–tugged on the rope. He faced away from the telephone pole, with the rope over his shoulder, leaning forward, feet planted firm, pulling with all his might.
The younger boy–around 6–attempted to climb up on the rope. Each attempt at pulling himself up threw his playmate off balance and caused the rope to go slack. Then the bigger boy would reposition himself, call upon all is strength, pull the rope tight, and call for his buddy to try again.
I’m sure this is what they envisioned:
The dogs and I moved past pretty quickly, but I think it’s safe to say they probably never successfully walked the rope.
And that’s OK.
The boys were joyfully playing outside on a beautiful autumn afternoon unencumbered by adult oversight, interference, lesson plans, learning goals, and fears. They failed to create a functioning tightrope, but their Play was a success. In fact, their failure was a success:
Knowing that a bit of failure doesn’t end the world, learning to rebound after experiencing a setback, understanding that knowing what doesn’t work is a step in figuring out what does work–these are all valuable bit of information that will serve those boys throughout their lives.