Play, Memories, and What I Learned
I recently experienced an extra poignant Father’s Day as it was the first without my Pop. I thought of all the memories we made together. All those seemingly simple activities that ultimately shaped my life. One of my earliest memories is of him pushing me on a swing as we counted up to a hundred in English and then Spanish. Then there were the long, intricate car tracks we would build throughout the hallway and rooms of the house. He taught me to play pool, poker and backgammon. All games I still love playing today.
Another game we loved was ping-pong. He beat me at it for years until I finally triumphed at 15. That was one of those life lessons my Pop imparted. Namely, you can’t be proud of a victory if you didn’t earn it with effort. Obviously, the other lesson is that practice absolutely pays off!
I imagine all Dads and Granddads have great memories playing with the kids. Mine include teaching my daughter to ride a bike at the school down the block; holding hands as we jumped off a bridge into a pond at family summer camp; evening story telling events at the local library; and searching for all the constellations in the night sky.
There was that time when she caught a water snake when she was only 5 years old. We learned to surf together when she was a teenager. I taught her to play volleyball. We would stack rocks in the creek, make sand castles at the beach, and play all kinds of games and puzzles. Unsurprisingly, I’ve loved playing ping-pong, poker, backgammon and pool with her.
It’s possible that I have an endless supply of great memories made by playing together as a family. But, our playing together is so much more than memories.
It is how my wife and I have been able to pass on life skills like good decision-making, sportsmanship and practice, and values like effort, empathy and respect for others and the natural world. It’s how my daughter developed the confidence, creativity and passions to pursue her interests in Greek mythology (thanks constellations and library story telling!) and photojournalism (thanks water snakes, sand castles and family summer camp!) at college. Heck, I credit her rich play life as essential to getting into a wonderful college and adjusting so well her independence, even though she is 3,000 miles away.
When you wrap it all up, we love each other a little more every time we play together. That’s the best thing about playing with your kids or grandkids.
I hope all Dads, Moms, Grandmas and Grandpas have a great summer of play.
About the Author
For over 20 years, Matt Brown has been leading high-performing teams to develop vibrant business cultures, invent and launch high-impact branded platforms, and turn around underperforming brands and businesses. Matt consults with Fortune 500 and early stage companies, usually working with the C-suite. He also co-founded a couple of companies including big BOING, an integrated strategy, innovation and development company that partnered with Kraft, Disney, Coca Cola, Nickelodeon, Hasbro, Learning Curve and others to invent, design and launch (or completely overhaul) major domestic and international brands.