Person in a lake

There’s a moment when a child stops

playing just for her as there is “Another” watching. The play become something other than sole imaginary play and is now “observed” play. The child comes out of her unconscious and is now conscious of her presence in the world No one really remembers this moment except me, that is. I was so lost in my play at age 4 that noticing I was being observed was an electric jolt. An intruder. As if someone could see into my mind and know what I was thinking. I was no longer playing for the sake of playing but now I played to an audience even if there was no one there. There is a psychological term for this. I forgot that term. I do know that I am almost integrated now. If I were a photograph I would be just one outline and not a series of paper dolls slightly overlapping one over the other. All those different characters I played. All the people I thought I had to be. Pleasing so many and always worried I had failed some which I’m sure I did. I became really exhausted from all of this pleasing. It is so much easier not to even notice.

2 thoughts on “

  1. Your recollection reminds me of the 8th stanza of William Wordsworth’s “ode on the Intimations of immortality from recollections in Early Childhood” where a “little Actor” plays at the feet of his parents. I myself experienced and witnessed in my own children how being observed changes the dynamic of play. I think there is a saving grace, however, in that a child can forget that he/she is being observed because the intensity play eventually blocks out awareness of observation.

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