Today my family remembers the 20th anniversary of my little brother’s death. He was 34 years old when he died as a soldier stationed in Ft. Bragg, NC. I remember that as a child, he loved garbage trucks. Why? Because we grew up living next door to our town’s local garbage collector. The neighbor parked his two humongous, smelly trucks in the yard next our house every day for many years. They were a magnet for little boys who loved trucks. I remember shaking my head as the older, sophisticated sister, plugging my nose and making faces at the little kids who couldn’t keep their hands off those stinking trucks.
He also loved toy soldiers. Back in the day my little brothers had boxes full of military green, plastic soldiers. They were molded with guns in their hands in different stances and the boys would play for hours burying them in the backyard sand pile and planning attacks on each other’s “guys.”
We all remember my brother saying over and over again, “When I grow up I want to be either a garbage man with my own garbage truck or a soldier in the Army.” True story. These were powerful toys to my brother. The power of his play as a child led him to join the US Army in 1977 after he graduated from high school. Over the next 16 years he served with the 20th Engineer Brigade, the 75th Ranger Regiment, and the 5th Special Forces Group. At every level of training, he was called out as “#1 basic trainee”, “recruit of the cycle”, or “distinguished honor graduate.”
What is your child’s passion? Throwing a ball? Spending a long time on a puzzle or building blocks? Dressing up in costumes and creating make-believe castles? Maybe helping you cook or clean the house! As a parent, you should notice what your child’s passions are at an early age. By sharing your own enthusiasm for things like sports, drawing, science, dancing, or photography you can launch opportunities for your kids to express themselves in a positive way. Never underestimate the power of play!