This little piece of art by Lynda Barry stopped me in my tracks the first time I saw it:
It’s so true! And it’s also true that it’s easy to forget as adults and classify play as “fun” (and from there it’s a short leap to “unimportant”, I find…)
But when I play as an adult, I’m not necessarily having fun the entire time. It might be very serious or very emotional. My favorite play is playing D&D, a collaborative storytelling game in which the characters might have terrible things happen to them or face great challenges. I definitely don’t just want fun, lighthearted, lack of challenge or seriousness the entire time (although there is plenty of room for that too).
I played the same way when I was a child. I imagined worlds, and terrible and serious things often happened in those worlds 😂 Even my own children, who are 5 and 3 and too young to really know about any particular terrible things, do play “car crashes” and “tower is on fire” and “this action figure is mad at that action figure” and “the baby is sad” quite frequently.
Play is not fun/happiness, play is work and learning and exploring, with the whole range of emotions that accompany that. ❤