A soccer ball rolled onto my blanket as I sat in the park on a warm Texas evening. I looked up, and there he was - dark curly hair, warm brown eyes, and an absolutely gorgeous smile.
His name was Talias. He spoke only Portuguese…
and, he was two.
We played for the next 15 minutes: he kicking with only his right foot and often missing completely, both of us constantly giggling.
When it was time to leave he kept pointing and repeating the same word, “Recreio. Recreio.”
His parents explained that I was the best 2-year old he’s ever played with and he was insisting that I come to the playground by their house.
When I said I couldn’t come he settled for a hug and waved by to “Bee-sey” before tottering off with my heart.
When we think of communication we often think of words – written or spoken – used in service of sending a message and making a connection. Play, however, is the ultimate communicator.
It’s why groups of strangers engage in “ice-breakers” before a conference and why former teammates remain friends for life long after their playing careers. It’s no coincidence that our dearest friends are also our favorite playmates.
Play has the unique power to defy boundaries and transcend age, race, religion, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation and level of education. Science has shown that play increases connection in every form of relationship from familial to platonic to romantic. Those who play experience lower stress, improved brain function, greater creativity, increased productivity and a higher emotional intelligence.
Talias spoke only Portuguese, but play is a universal language. Instead of being strangers of opposite genders with a 31-year age difference we were just two kids kickin it at the par
Cheers to your weekend and may play be part of your every day!
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” – George Bernard Shaw.