Wednesday, January 20, 2010

play czar

One of my given roles in the household is to be the one who cares for the cat’s play needs. I have happily accepted this responsibility as playing with them brings me great joy. I also get the additional bonus of being associated with fun, which means I get greeted with a flurry of kitty excitement when I get home!

As a child, I have many fond memories of playing with our Chihuahuas. When my parents were gone, I would often strip all the cushions from the couch and build elaborate forts out of blankets, cushions, pillows, furniture and whatever else was handy. We would play for hours and always had a blast.

Now, I get to re-live those fun times. A simply constructed blanket-fort – a blanket strung over some furniture and the scratching post can provide hours of entertainment for all. One time Nahum and I were playing in the blanket-fort when out of nowhere Willow jumped from the couch right on top of the fort, collapsing it on top of us. Nahum and I were completely taken by surprise. I howled with laughter.

Each of our cats has their favorite toys. Max had his blue yarn ball. Willow has her little rattly mice. Nahum has his bootlace string, which he carries with him everywhere, like a little boy carrying his favorite blanket. He also seems to think Willow is his toy to chase and gnaw on. Theo’s favorites have not been discovered yet.

Play seems to come natural to our cats; it is an important part of their life. It is also an important part of my life. Sometimes when life is more balanced, play occurs naturally in my life (i.e. rehabilitating a lovely piece of yard art and returning it to it’s native habitat.) Then there are other times when I have to intentionally work at incorporating play into my life. Playing with the cats is certainly fun, but there is something different about play with fellow humans. Allowing myself to be childlike, to fully laugh and be silly is to allow myself to be vulnerable, to risk being mocked and shamed.

In order for Nahum to play with abandon, he must feel safe in his home and with his people. When someone visits or I take him on the road, he is much more reserved.

My hope is that I can someday play like Nahum, with amazing freedom from the constrains of being overly self-consciousness, trusting that God and my people will be delighted by my antics rather than freaked by my wildness.

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