Play for its own sake is essential to most sentient beings. Animals and birds play. We don’t know what they get out of it, but we know that they seem to enjoy it — even seem to find it necessary. Kittens roll and tumble and chase their tails. Dogs chase sticks and frisbees. Birds play with balls and talk to themselves in mirrors. Otters slide down river banks, over and over again. Dolphins frolic just because they can.
Play, activity done just for its own sake, comes naturally to children. Small children spend hours pretending, playing make-believe with dolls and other toys, with or without fellow dreamers. When there are others, especially parents who can still play, tell stories and pretend — and who will take the time to do it — playtime becomes even richer. Continue reading