Thankyou, Jaxon V and Jaxon G for so wonderfully illustrating so many aspects of children’s play. The closest thing I can relate it to from my own experience is the period of my life when I attended clown workshops. The similarities are , for me, that there will be no spoken words but a lot of gestures, body language and eye contact; one will not worry about what one or whether this is the politically correct thing to do; one will listen closely to one’s own needs and one will also be closely monitoring what is happening with the other person; no one is trying to be nice; there may be objects to which one becomes unreasonably attached ; and there is an overall attitude of open-minded curiosity and wonder and interest; there is camaraderie but above all, self-protection, which may take rather odd forms. And one is also, of course, free to move away at any point if one loses interest and there is no obligation to say goodbye!
This extraordinary little exchange between Jaxon V and Jaxon G reveals evidence of all of the above. Given that the pundits and academics believe that children don’t really play ‘together’ until they are a bit older than this, but prefer to engage in ‘parallel play’, this interesting interlude is probably fairly new territory for them both. These two are well matched, both with strong characters and strong wills and neither has expectations of necessarily being able to get what he wants. So there is a quality of sparring for me -” What will he do if I do this? I’m going to check it out”.
To start with they both find themselves sitting side by side. They arrived separately. Then Jaxon V tries to balance his goblet on the chair beside him, first one side and then the other.(like a can of beer?) Finally, under the apparently sleepy and disinterested gaze of Jaxon G, he puts it on the table just behind him and sprawls with a gesture of territorial satisfaction. Suddenly, Jaxon G becomes cat like and springs up and takes it! The consequences are momentarily a bit dire until Jaxon G sensibly relents and Jaxon V gets a goblet back. But it is not the one that Jaxon V has been playing with in front of the mirror for the last half hour.
So now there is a certain tension in the air. They stare at each other. Then Jason G defiantly ‘drinks’ from the purple glass. Jaxon V watches with incredulity! (There is now a missing photo because the next thing is that Jaxon V surprises me by also tipping his head back and taking a swig!). Again they stare at each other. I am reminded of some sort of beer drinking contest again! A certain degree of manly bravado is being played out. (Kaeden too, like me, is mesmerised – hence the missed photo) And then to my delight, with no apparent signal, they simultaneously raise their tankards and take a great swig together. It feels like they just signed a peace pact. Again there is a piece of the puzzle missing, because despite the peace pact, the question of ownership is not settled. I had to momentarily intervene to explain to Jaxon G that Jaxon V really wants the purple one back. The exchange is amicable and they sit for another few seconds. Then Jaxon G just departs, leaving Jaxon V looking a bit perplexed for a moment. Is he registering that maybe a buddy is more important than a purple goblet? Probably not but maybe yes , on some unconscious level. And maybe Jaxon G experiences a similar process.
It is through such delightful moments of co-operation, communication, compromise, impulse control (all cunningly disguised as ‘play’!!) that children eventually learn to be politically correct and socially and emotionally competent. It is this sort of thing, rather than wise admonitions and well-meant homilies from adults, which will eventually soften the naturally self-focused edges of children so that they will learn how to play for hours without falling foul of their own passions, impulses and longings. Thank you, both of you, for reminding me what fun clown workshops can be !! And life !
(Recorded by Evelyn.May 2013)