plā′wėrk′ings, n. Portions of play matters consideration; draft formations.

Archive for June, 2013

Time and magic of a real persuasion

Let’s leave the adult world of money and mind games for a while. This is an exercise in time; or rather, this is an exercise in moving times around us. You are a child here in this world. It’s not a perfect place, that much should be said from the start, but it is a place of energy, of magic of a real persuasion (not the fabricated illusions of the screen), of circumstances and arrangements you don’t, as yet, have names for.

It’s a warm day today: there’s a breeze which you can only describe as soft. How else can you draw that feel? You stop in the street to think about the naming and drawing of things. The breeze has fingers at your neck and it tickles at your hair. It’s soft and you think of all the words that mean this and of all the words that are soft. The breeze has a smell, though you can’t name it. There are people in the street and they pass you by, move round you, muttering. You’re smiling because they don’t know what soft is.

By and by, some time on, you see roses. You wonder what they feel like, though you know that touching them will make them fall apart. You’re the master of the natural world: one touch or one breath from you and everything shifts. You tell the roses not to worry. Up close they have bugs in their petals. They’re curious to you, and they’re curious about you. One bug has a name though it’s a secret. You don’t touch the bugs because they have more legs than you care to care about.

Here is a wall. It isn’t very high and on the other side of it are empty things and broken things. Someone’s left them here and they may be back for them. People think it’s just rubbish, but you know that even rubbish belongs to someone. You look around and practice holding your breath. You climb the wall and balance there, still holding the urge to breathe out, breathe out. You hop and see if you can balance. From here you can see right into someone’s kitchen. They have dirty plates and so you look through the binoculars of your fingers to see what else they have.

When the dog barks suddenly, you don’t think: you jump. It’s one of those small vicious dogs, you know: you’ve heard that sound before. It’ll come skidding out, all teeth and yap and it won’t know you’re only looking. So you jump and run and you keep running until you can’t hear the dog any more. Even so, you’re wary. You know that dogs can come out of nowhere. So you squeeze through the fence of someone else’s garden, near where its trees back onto the woods beyond. You take the shortcut because the shortcut’s there. No-one sees.

In the woods you’re suddenly struck quiet by the colour up above. The sun is dripping through the leaves in glassy, shining lime arrangements. It’s like being under the sea (except the sea doesn’t have such colours, you know — you’ve seen the sea from above and you know it’s blue and dark green and white, and though it shines like tin foil it doesn’t drip). It’s more like being in a cave. There are bats nearby. There are rats and other creatures you have no names for. You take up a stick. It’s a solid stick, you find: you smack it against a tree trunk and it makes a thwacking sound but doesn’t break. It’ll be good enough for beating down creatures that have no names.

Every tree gets a good hard thwack. It’s a sound that pleases and it makes you smile. You swish it in the long grass and weeds. You need sticks in the world: they make good everythings — they measure the depth of the stream (and the stream turns the stick dark brown); they help you to walk; they let you poke at disgusting creamy off-white mounds of somethings that look like they used to be mushrooms. No creatures come after you.

There’s no-one here in the woods. It’s just you, and you need to pee. So you use the stream. You listen to the sprinkling on the water and you feel the breeze on your naked skin. The water is barely an inch or so deep here and there are stones that poke above the surface. There’s a silty mud like dirty sand and though the water is clear enough at the edges you don’t know how deep it goes farther out. There are bigger rocks and old branches nearby. So you gather things, thinking some vague plans of building a bridge. You try not to get your feet wet but that isn’t how it ends up. So you wade in because you’re wet anyway. The water slops around your ankles and makes your socks wet and heavy. The bridge turns into a way to try to stop the water coming through.

You work at it all afternoon, though there are always cracks and the water is too strong anyway. It doesn’t matter because it needs to be done. You move a tangle of bank scrub away to see what’s behind, and there’s something dead there. It takes you by surprise and you step away quickly. You’re wrinkling up your face and expressing all manner of loud revulsions. It’s putrefying and disgusting, so you get your stick and poke it. You daren’t go closer in case it does something. It doesn’t move but it stinks. You kick it and it squelches, so you cover it up quickly with a carrier bag you’ve found. You stare at the plastic grave you’ve made. It needs something else. You look around. It needs a stick. You find another one, not your good one which you can’t waste on this. You find this other stick, and you rip the end so it has a bit of a point, and you push it through the bag and the dead thing underneath. There’s not much resistance and you find you can push the stick right down to the mud. There. It’s pinned there now. It’s done. You turn your back and climb back up the bank.

At the top there’s a boy standing there looking at you. He’s about your age, though you know he’s not as smart. You can tell that by the way he’s just standing there looking at you with that ‘not as smart’ look on his face. ‘What?’ you say, but he doesn’t answer. Freak. Weirdo. You’re a little put out by him: it’s too odd that someone would just stand there and stare and not say anything. You feel a little scared but you don’t let him see it. You murmur ‘Fucko’ under your breath and hope that he does and that he doesn’t hear it. When he speaks he doesn’t speak very loud:

‘What did you call me?’

You feel the cold freeze in your veins. You don’t want to say it again. ‘Nothing. I didn’t say anything.’ There’s something about the way he doesn’t move that really troubles you. He just says quietly: ‘I’ve got a knife, you know.’ You don’t know. You just can’t tell. He could have a knife, or he could be lying. He has freak-weirdo’s hair and his eyes are too blue. He could be an alien, or a creature.

‘Yeh?’ you find yourself saying and it scares you that you’re saying it without your own permission. ‘Show me.’ So he shows you, just like that. It’s got a flick-blade and a red handle. He picks up a short stick and cuts it lengthways just like that, quickly and like the stick’s made of plasticine or something. ‘I kill squirrels with this,’ he tells you, and he isn’t lying now. You can tell. You want him to show you, and you don’t. ‘I have to go home,’ you say, and he laughs and mimics you. The boy sits down on the bank with his back to you. You watch him for a while, not going home because you can’t. He’s doing something but you can’t see.

‘What you doing?’

He doesn’t answer, so you ask again. ‘Nothing.’ He’s doing something though. You move closer and look over his shoulder and you see he’s sitting picking the wings off flying ants. You sit next to him. ‘You know that’s cruel?’


You don’t have an answer to this. You sit and watch the way the light falls in great chunks through the canopy of trees. The two of you spend a while there and end up throwing stones at trees on the other side of the stream. They land with satisfying clunks, and you progress to aiming at birds and other moving things in the undergrowth. ‘That was a cat,’ he tells you, though you can’t be sure because you don’t see it.

You both make sploshes of small rocks into the water for a while and then you have a sudden urgent need to leave. ‘I have to go now,’ you say.


You shrug. The boy gets to his feet and helps you up. ‘I’ll come,’ he says. He doesn’t know which way is your way, probably, but you don’t see a problem with it. You don’t say anything as you make your way: you hit every other tree with your stick because it’s still good; you trail your hand in the long stems of plants you don’t know the names of, and you smell your fingers; you think about nothing much. The boy finds his own stick, though it’s not as good as yours: he’s still a freak, though now you’re not as scared of him as you were . . .

This has been an exercise in time; or rather, this has been an exercise in moving times around us. Maybe it’s my own childhood swilling up to the surface, and it’s not a perfect place by any means (this is not intended as an exercise in rose-tintedness), but there is a kind of energy in ‘play that isn’t corroded by adults’. There is magic of a real persuasion; there are circumstances and arrangements we don’t, and maybe never will, have names for (if only we could name these: we could cut away all the adult rhetoric about play as learning tools, play to reduce obesity, encouraging co-operative play to combat anti-social behaviour, etc.)

Let’s think of time and magic.

Speculations on healthy selfishness in children’s play

Children who play any way they like are going to grow up not appreciating others, respecting others or generally able to get along, right? No, of course not! Regular readers of this blog know the way I tend to think by now! To those who aren’t regular readers (as well as you regular lot) I ask: how do you feel about that opening statement?

I’ve been wrestling with ideas on ‘playing children’ and ‘playing adults’; or rather, on trying to marry up this primary instinct I have that children can pretty much do no wrong in their play (there’s a caveat to that, which I’ll come on to) with how adults who also play can, conversely, do plenty of wrong to others. Surely play is play no matter if it’s a child engaged in it or an adult? Many adults won’t call their play by this name (because they don’t realise that it is, or because our society tends to frown on such ‘frivolity’ in adulthood); some adults do call their play by this name. No matter what we call it, play does affect others. I don’t see how it can be any other way.

When we advocate for play and we fight the good fight for children expressing themselves in that play, we don’t accept that causing harm to others is legitimate. I was reminded recently (not that I’d forgotten, but it was timely correspondence) of the atrocities inflicted on a certain young child a number of years ago by two boys whose identities subsequently had to be changed. That these children could ‘play in their own way’ by doing what they did was surely not accepted by anyone anywhere. So this is an extreme case, but coming back down the spectrum to children’s general and often ‘do as they like’ play, I’ve lost count of the times other adults have expressed concern about this to me.

They seem to equate examples of children in ‘this play is all about what I want’ mode as some degenerate selfish catastrophe that must be averted at all costs. What will happen, they say, is these children will grow into the very epitome of all that is bad in society, i.e. realistically, that they won’t slot neatly into the world that makes the adult expressing these views comfortable. There’s an inherent irony in that adult selfishness. After all, do they (those adults) always hold doors open for strangers, say their please- and thank yous at every opportunity, politely respect their elders at all times, or refrain from even the mildest of occasional swearing? Is there such a person as the whitest of the white? What a boring world that would be if we were all like this.

That said, this brings me back round to the idea that (adults’) play affects others. The mischievous or malicious intentions of one person will inevitably impact on another. I suspect that, contrary to my opening statement, children who don’t play any way they like are going to grow up not appreciating others, respecting others or generally able to get along. This isn’t such new thinking because others have been writing about the possible detrimental effects of an impoverished playhood for a while now. However, it’s something I come to this week in trying to untangle thoughts on personal interactions between myself and various generations.

With children in my family, when they tip the playable contents of the house and garden upside down in individual manifestations of ‘do as I like’, I’m pretty much fine with this. That said, I do admit to moments of small anxiety: no, it’s not the idea of having to tidy it all up — that’s time that’s factored in anyway; it is, on reflection, more to do with me forgetting the drama of the moment. At such a young age, these children will often play with something for a few minutes before moving on to something else (often resulting in one thing after another being tipped out, with great delight). It’s all about the doing in the now, and in my moment of minor agitation I forget this. This is my problem, but I know it hangs around sometimes.

When children I’m working with in a play setting do the same (I search through the internal records of my emotions), I find I’m pretty much unperturbed by ‘do as I like-ness’. There’s that same time factored in to tidying up (me, not the children), but there seems to be more of an understanding in me about the drama of the moment. Perhaps it’s because I know that, despite my home being my family children’s home in their play, in the play setting the place is theirs (if not totally, because there is still the lingering adult presence of possible curtailment, then it’s theirs more than it is ours). In many play settings though, this isn’t the case: the place is more about the adult than the child (despite the array of coloured walls, play stuff, and earnest-sounding policy documents proclaiming the child above all else).

When adults I know or meet engage in that ‘do as I like-ness’, the game seems to shift. That is, I wonder how they got this way. Why are they being so anti-other adult here? It’s not the same as the child ‘do as I like’. The child is still working things out (I hesitate to use the word ‘learning’ because too many people associate this with formal adult-led processes of teaching); the child is also suffering the inevitable knock-backs as a result of what they do and its affect on others (and I’m not suggesting that the adult is ‘the finished article’ here because we’re all in a process of ‘working things out’, to a certain extent); the ‘do as I like’ adult, I suggest, hasn’t had such a wide-ranging playhood when they were a child. I realise this is a huge and sweeping statement and that there are always going to be exceptions to the rule, but if you’ve been repressed, aggressively socially indoctrinated, or just plain not given the chance to find out for yourself, you’re going to grow up as someone less able to appreciate or respect others or generally be able to get along: such is your psychopathological state.

So, in my wrestling with the ‘do as I like-ness’ of playing children and of playing adults, I’m of the opinion (today) that an early healthy selfishness generally develops into a healthy social adult; in contrast, a stunted playhood will probably result in malevolent or maladjusted adults. Maybe it’s theoretical justification following the practical experiment (not the best science methodology!) — planting the answer I’m looking for all along; in the absence of any study data though, this is the thinking that feels possible.

Relating stories

It’s late at night and I’m just leaving for home. It’s not children I’m working with in this instance but adults with learning difficulties. I have a conversation with one young man: we’ve seen each other around and somewhat kept our distances. We say goodbye and then I shake hands with him. Another day and, again towards the end of the session, I see him going out the door. I’m looking out through the window and he makes a deliberate point of showing me the toy he’s taking out. Ten seconds later, and for a fraction of a second before he leaves — by way of the slight opening in the doorway — he sticks his tongue out at me.

It is a moment in which I instantly think: here is play. It’s also a moment in which I think that this is about the formation of relationship making. I write this story because of continuing thoughts on the nature of connections between people. This story is about two adults, both of whom seem to understand play in various ways; I use it to form a springboard into more writing on relationships between adults and children. Or, rather than this word ‘relationship’, as I was advised by a very good friend a very long time ago, shouldn’t we be thinking more about the idea of ‘relating’?

This post isn’t specifically about playwork thinking, though of course there will be links into it. This post concerns relating and play just ‘out there’. That said, it’s worth taking a quick poke around some playwork thinking. For a long time I was uncomfortable about this idea of the ‘phantom playworker’ (he or she who pretty much stays in the background and isn’t really noticed). In my experience, children could generally communicate with adults without the latter necessarily upsetting their play. Maybe I wasn’t doing playwork right? I don’t know. I just know that the idea didn’t always tally with my experience. I read more, met more people engaged in the practice, read more again, talked more, etc. I understood more. I got sucked into playwork. I couldn’t see the wood for the trees.

I got to thinking more about it all and so I write how it is ‘out there’. I started wondering if all the literature on playwork wasn’t missing something kind of important; that is, yes, let’s consider the play itself, and the space, and the playing children, and even the playing child . . . but what about considering the child as an individual? What about considering how this individual playworker relates with this individual child?

Co-incidentally, and annoyingly, this thought has popped up — in passing — even just this morning in my inbox. In an e-zine on playwork matters, the editor has suggested that play is often seen as more important than the child. OK, so maybe there’s a point to be had there. However, the editorial also includes the suggestion that maybe the child at play shouldn’t be what’s focused on; that is, the adults who are concerned with play should be worked with instead. At least I think that this is what it’s trying to say.

I haven’t formed an opinion yet on these thoughts. I’m still concerned with relating. Even the occupational standards in playwork (which learners for qualifications are assessed by) talk about developing and maintaining relationships with children and young people. So, on the one hand we’ve got some playwork writers who advocate a stand-off approach, and on the other hand we’ve got course learners expected to develop a good rapport with children, help them to respect other people’s feelings, and help them understand about positive relationships with others.

We need to cut to the chase: without relating we live in individual caves. Children can be very social creatures, and they can also be incredibly intuitive and astute. In our predominately ‘western/first world’ ways of thinking, children often get isolated from adults’ thinking processes. What the individual and particular child has to offer can be ignored. In other cultures, the connection between adult and child is much stronger (according to studies I’ve read on some indigenous tribal communities, Hispanic families, etc).

I have many stories I can tell (as all of us who’ve worked with children no doubt have). Arthur highlighted to me recently about the importance of titles for stories: so my working title for the following story is Show Me the Money. I will always remember this story because it still makes me laugh with a sort of gallows humour. A while ago I was visiting a holiday playscheme. It wasn’t a very popular scheme and, in fact, only a handful of children were in that day (all sat around a table colouring in ‘worksheets’, or whatever they were). It was a horrible windowless room. I knew one of the older girls from when she used to attend the schemes I worked at in the same town. I also knew this girl, Lizzy, when she was a lot younger: she was the one who was always climbing over the seats on the minibus when we parked up, banging the ceiling, and throwing things around when we were in the play setting. Then she got doped up and that sucked the play life out of her. Lizzy sat, doped up (I could tell), colouring in dutifully. She looked up at a member of staff at the playscheme I was visiting and asked him matter-of-factly: ‘Why do you work here? Is it because of the money?’

She said exactly what I wanted to say because later, when I was talking with him and his colleagues away from the children, he told me that he thought that children should basically be instructed on how to respect adults (i.e. him) and if they didn’t it would end in social meltdown all round! Lizzy, I still salute you!

This is, of course, also about anti-relating, as it were. If we bother to consider the individual child, what might we see? Here are some more stories (because there are many):
The Story of Words and No Words

A very long time ago, maybe twenty years ago or more now, I sat on the step of the hall with Pippa, who was about five at the time. It was a Saturday morning. We watched the way of the world and she told me she was ‘all roasting hot, like a chicken’! Later, I was still sat there, though I don’t recall what else was going on. Pippa passed by, giving me a look (summing up her approximation of my mood, I suppose), gave me a quick hug, and off she went.
The Story of Facts and Bees

Not so far back, but still a long time ago, Tom (ten years old) sat with me and told me what it felt like to be in his head. He had a condition that made him get very angry very quickly, almost without warning. Or rather, as Tom explained it eloquently: ‘It’s like my head is full of bees and I can’t get them out.’ He would go through his necessary frustrations, fighting it all the way, grabbing hold of my hand or arm, then when it was over he would sit down, breathe, and go on to recite all the FA Cup winners for the past eighty years or so, or other amazing football trivia. Tom was amazing in many ways.
The Story of the Return of the Sith

At White City adventure playground in London, one of the children recently took to calling me Dooku (after Count Dooku, apparently, from Star Wars!) I don’t know why. The last time I was there, each day we prepared to open the gates for the afternoon session and I would hear the playful teasing of ‘Come on, Dooku. Open up.’ During the session, wandering round, I might get sucked into a game of football by hearing something like ‘Oh, it’s Dooku on the wing, great pass out, ping it back in, Dooku . . .’ I’m thinking ahead in this story: I fully expect the full Dooku treatment the next time I’m there. (It makes a change from having conversations about ‘are you a boy or a girl?’ — I have long hair, you see! — or the teenage observation of how I look like Jesus, or — on one occasion — a group of younger children asked me to role play being ‘Bad Jesus’, which I still can’t fully get my head around!)

It’s relating that marks us out as important to one another, and play feeds right into that whole scheme of things. That one person can ‘see’ another by way of playful interactions is something special. Better a world of truly playful connections (between any adults, or between adults and children), no matter how fleeting, than the ego-political posturing and games we see around us all the time in the adult world.

Heretical speculation about some children’s play wishes: from adulteration to a fusion of play

Following on from the thinking in my previous post on the observation of children’s play, the playwork term ‘adulteration’ is up for further consideration here. It’s often seen as a rather odd idea by playwork learners! Despite its meaning of ‘making impure’ it is, after all, a word confused with other areas of some people’s lives in relation to being unfaithful to a spouse! This type of adulteration, in playwork, isn’t the same kind (although, thinking about it, it does contain a certain unfaithfulness: that is, not being faithful to children’s play).

Two strands of recent thinking and experience lead me along this reflection this week: a recent teaching session in which I attempted to differentiate between the playwork terms ‘annihilation’ and ‘adulteration’ (which I’ll come to shortly), and consideration of blog- and social media material I’ve read where the writers seem to get quite excited about play or being involved in play.

It is my experience that playwork learners often confuse the terms ‘annihilation’ and ‘adulteration’. Why do they have to be such stupid words? is a common sentiment I hear! To which I often reply: ‘I didn’t write this stuff; take it up with Sturrock and Else.’ So, here are a couple of ways of explaining the terms from those authors (anyone further interested should go to Ludemos, which is the best place to find out information on matters of psycholudics, play cycle, and such terms as I’m addressing in this post):

Play annihilation is the end of the play for the child at that time . . . when [the play] has no more meaning for the child, when the child has got whatever they were looking for from the play experience.

Adulteration (from the Colorado Paper, 1998, by Gordon Sturrock and Perry Else): There is a danger that the play aims and objects of the children become contaminated by either the wishes of the adult in an urge to ‘teach’ or ‘educate’, simply to dominate, or by the worker’s own unplayed out material.

In my previous post I touched on this idea of ‘unplayed out material’. That we, as adults, effectively haven’t finished playing the things we played as a child, or that we’re compensating now for play we didn’t do, might come as something of an eye opener to some of us. After all, adults don’t play, do they? Adults get on with life, and children play. No, of course not. Of course adults still play. We go to the pub, play sports, tell jokes, dance, pull faces, etc., etc. We play. I’m still wondering if this means we’ve all got unplayed out material in us. If that’s true, if we’re invited into children’s play, maybe we can’t help but adulterate that play with our own play drives.

I’ve been reading various blog- and social media material recently and I know that those writers are on the same general wavelength as me in my approach to children’s play (because I know a lot of those writers anyway); however, I do wonder sometimes if the observation of children’s play, the involvement of adults in the child’s play, isn’t verging more towards being about the buzz the adult gets out of it all. My fellow playworkers, don’t get me wrong here: you are appreciated, and I get a buzz from play too. This is it though: our own ‘unplayed out material’ can be appeased in these ways of involvement in the play of children.

Is that play-healthy for the children? I mean, sure they’ll often let us know in no uncertain terms if we’re not wanted or needed, but when we are accepted into the play, does the whole buzz of play swing our way? We’ve all been there, let’s be honest, when we’re in the play and we have an idea of how things can shift direction, and we say it (as in, ‘I know, what if we try this . . .?’), and the child accepts, and we get the stuff, and we play the play, and the child follows along, and we have another idea, and before long the child moves on to something else . . .

Sometimes, in these ways of playing, the child can get the buzz too. All seems fine. Yet this is what I mean when I ask if it’s play-healthy: it’s not so easy to differentiate if you’re taking over the play or not if the child is buzzing along with it too. It’s worth repeating again and again that children’s play is not about you. Your play is your play . . .

Children do often invite (cue) the adult into play though, right? Children do often seem to very much want the adult to be involved. This is a really moot point for some playwork writers out there: children should play with other children and not with adults. I have no problem with the idea that children playing with other children is what they need most; however, in play settings (where adults are necessarily there, and this is often considered to be an unnatural state of affairs), and more pertinently outside play settings, in family situations for example, children do often — though not always — have a very great desire to involve adults in the play. This is what does happen. When this does happen, and here’s the repeated thinking again, isn’t that ‘unplayed out material’ type of adulteration bound to occur? (I write this as someone who has read in and around the deeper gestalt levels of the Colorado Paper, the ‘analytic third’, and so on).

Sturrock and Else write, in the Colorado Paper (about the ‘reflective integrity’ of the role of a playworker when trying to preserve the meaning of the play for the playing child):

Obviously, this is a delicate and sensitive task and open to many kinds of adulteration, but it is one we see as being central to the judgement and skills of playwork practice.

They’re saying, as I read it, that it’s children’s play but we may be sensitively involved in that. However, I come back to the idea that ‘unplayed out material’ adulteration is bound to occur if the adult is invited into the children’s play. In other words, being PC (playwork correct) about it all: children have invited the adult into the play (see playwork appropriate intervention styles: wait to be invited to play) therefore — now being non-PC — from their perspectives, children are accepting that adults will play too. Perhaps, and also whisper this quietly in playwork circles, children are sometimes actively seeking adult play ideas by way of their involvement.

I know, playwork aficionados: saying that is tantamount to heresy! I don’t write this to justify any personal recent involvement in children’s play, I write it because I’m thinking it through.

Let’s get back to towing the party line (for a few lines here, at least). My disclaimer is that I do understand the theory and the practice involved in the sensitive preservation (‘holding’) of children’s own play ‘frames’ (that reflective integrity), and the potential for adulteration and what that means, i.e. that we might be involved but it’s about the child not the adult. The idea of adulteration is that the adult can, but shouldn’t, impact negatively on the playing intentions of the child. In my own thinking, this amounts to an ‘unfaithfulness’ to the play and, I suppose, to the playing child. It’s true to say that all true playworkers, the converted to whom I preach, get a buzz out of the observation and consideration of play; some may even get a buzz from involvement by invitation in children’s play. The buzz could soon become more about the playworker though. After all, don’t we all have unplayed out material in us? Get back to the PC: we need to know that children’s play is not about us. We need to be able to differentiate between their play and our play. Yet, shifting away from the PC again, children do often invite us into play, and maybe — maybe — they actually want our play ideas sometimes too. The heresy of it!

This can’t be right, can it? All my playwork nerves are starting to get very anxious at the suggestion of it. I have an urgent need to try to talk myself out of this. Children’s play content and intent is about them; it doesn’t have anything to do with what the adult suggests. How can children’s play that includes the adult’s ideas then be the children’s play? The play becomes a fused engagement: it is the product of the play of the child and the ‘unplayed out material’ of the adult.

That can’t be right, can it?
Medial intervention (Colorado Paper): Following the issued play cues of the child, the playworker becomes involved in the essential structures of the play. The immediate frame of the child’s play now includes the presence/ideas/wishes/knowledge/authority and status of a playing adult. The playworker is reading this frame, and their involvement, at the same time as being a playing participant.

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