Danger! Old People Playing
Wednesday, May 6th
Difficult to say who is having most fun.
You don't have to have a grandparent who is a Play Therapist in order to have fun. It's almost a prerequisite of being Nanna and Grampy that you have a built-in fun factor. Until recently, the main advantage of being retired was that you have time to spend with your grandchildren without having to worry about the job or the housework or whatever else means that you have to keep saying to the children, 'sorry darling, but I'm busy just now.'
I couldn't believe my eyes when I first passed this sign in a village between Macclesfield and Whaley Bridge. Must be a great place to live. Probably full of childminders. It was certainly true that, before the lockdown, there were thousands of grandparents who were looking after children while their own children went to work. I have always been an advocate for a parent being able choose to stay at home and look after their own children if that is what they would prefer to do. I still think that those parents should be paid to do just that. Time with your own children, especially in the early years, is so critical.
But suddenly things have changed for many parents. Like it or not, many are forced to stay at home because of the pandemic. I can imagine it may seem like purgatory for some, especially if you have no space to play or food to eat. But for some, it is an opportunity to spend quality time with your offspring.
Within our own family, we have some lovely pictures of mums and dads, aunts and uncles, being creative with the kids in a way they would have found difficult under normal circumstances. Building a doll's house out of cardboard boxes and decorating it, creating vegetable plots in the back garden, helping dad sort out his garage, art and craft sessions. For some, this will be a time to treasure.
I can't wait to see our grandchildren again and get up to some more mischief while mum and dad aren't looking. That said, I wouldn't begrudge parents one hour of quality time spent enjoying their children's company.
It is obvious, looking at Mark's gospel (Chapter 10,) that Jesus valued the time to sit and play with children. We don't know what he actually said or did when he was with them, but we do know he saw them as demonstrating the essential qualities of citizens of heaven. Perhaps that was partly their willingness to trust others, to enjoy stories, to laugh and have fun. I, for one, would like to think so.
Mother, Father God,
Thank you for children of all ages. Even ones with white hair.
We pray for parents who are separated from their children by this crisis or by conflict in troubled lands.
We pray for children who are separated from their parents in refugee camps or because their parents have been killed by warfare, hunger or disease.
We pray for parents who lack the resources and the space to make their homes a joyful place to live together.
We rejoice with those who are spending fulfilling moments with each other as they make the most of these different times.
May we learn the value of quality time and treasure it for future days,