Sunday, March 14, 2010

Back into the Playroom

Last month Teflon and I were traveling. We went to the beautiful beaches of South Carolina, and we worked from distance. We enjoyed early walks on the beach to get breakfast; we worked from bookstores and little coffee shops. We met some fun, interesting people over dinner. We talked with friends at home and mostly felt in touch with the world we normally live in.

I say mostly, because my two dear play friends at home in their playrooms, were not able to see, talk to or play with me for a complete month.

When we made our travel plans, I realized that my travel ideas would make an enormous impact on the daily routines of my friends. I would just disappear on them for a complete month. How to explain this change to them in a way that they would understand that I hadn't left them? That I would come back? That I would be thinking of them?

Tracking Iris
I made a plan because I wanted to help them understand that I would be gone for a while, but that I would be coming back again. I decided that I would talk with them about my upcoming travels and I wanted to give them something that would remind them of these discussions and give them a way to comprehend what was going on. Both boys are not yet at a stage where you just tell them "hey, I'm going to the beach and I'll be back in four weeks!"

I'm not sure if they yet totally understand what four weeks means, or what it means to go to the beach. I for sure do not believe they know that the closest beach around is a three hour drive, and that the beach I was going to was way, way farther.

With my computer, I created a calendar for the upcoming ten weeks. It had a little photo of me, an explanation of my going on a holiday. It showed the playroom sessions with me before I would leave and after I left in a different color than the other days. A visual representation of the calendar was hung on the wall in their playrooms for others to reference when they talked about me while I was gone. About two to three weeks before I left, I started telling my friends about my travel plans and with the help of family and other playroom friends, one cross was placed on the calendar every day.

I got an email halfway through my holiday where the mom told me that her son would wake up in the morning and say "no Iris today, no... no... no..."

I guess that my plan worked!

My First Day Back in the Playroom
I had no idea how my little friends would respond to me coming back into the playroom. One of the boys has at different times shown real anger and frustration when his dad returned from travels, and so I could see this happening with me. The other boy sometimes withdraws by staying into the bathroom when something is up for him, so I could see that happening too!

None of this happened. Instead, I was greeted with acceptance and love. The first boy looked at me as if he could not believe his eyes for at least a minute and them mostly wanted to hug and kiss me. The first two days back in the playroom he regularly checked the tattoo on my arm, as if that picture proved I was really back. The other boy showed me what an incredible vocabulary jump he had made in the area of animals and how well he could write them and easily embraced me as his play buddy!


I am so happy to see that my little friends found ways to deal with me being gone, and that we were easily able to pick up where we'd left off. It’s funny. My friendships with these boys represent so much of what I like in friendships generally. When I see someone, I like to spend time with them in the moment, talking about things that are going on right now and enjoying each other. I am not a person that would talk half an hour about the fantastic holiday I had. I would tell you a couple of highlights and then move on to the now.

In my friendships I also do not spend a lot of time about "what happened?" Instead, it is all about "how are you now", enjoying what is there in the moment. If a friend is in the middle of a challenge, I want to hear about it and find a way in which I can help. If this challenge is long gone and my friend feels good then great, let's spend our time on something else! We can go gardening, biking, running, discussing the philosophy of happiness, making music, or writing animal names on the chalkboard!

Happy Sunday everyone!

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