A Different Kind of Playing

Rebecca Toal's avatar

by Rebecca Toal

We had the amazing opportunity over the Christmas holidays to spend time visiting with the kids’ cousins who have been living in Australia with my brother and sister-in-law for over 3 years now.

Before that, we were also separated by many miles, when we lived in the States and they were in the UK.

Well, we each have adorable 5-year-old girls.

Our youngest, Brielle, whom I often write about, is actually a few months older than her cousin Sophia, as she was born very prematurely.

For Sophia and her siblings, this was their first opportunity to see Brielle in person (not FaceTime), and interact with her.

They were very curious about her cochlear implants, her special way of eating, her unusual modes of mobility and fascinating equipment like her walking frame and chest therapy machine.

God love them, they all were so patient and gentle with her.

Possibly a little intimidated!

Their mum and I explained things to them in simple terms.

Sophia and Brielle had great fun at the playground, swinging side by side and holding hands.

She would help her cousin walk by holding onto one of her hands while I held the other.

One day at our house, they made a game of pushing Brielle around and around in our big arm chair, much to her delight and smiles. She doesn’t talk, run about, or play conventionally as they do.

So… they figured out what way she DID PLAY, and happily engaged with their disabled cousin.

They figured out a different kind of playing with Brielle.

Brielle enjoyed the company and noise of all her cousins and sisters playing. There sure are a lot of them when we all get together.

She loves to get in the thick of activity, and never wants to miss out on the action!

It was really sweet on the cousin’s last night over for dinner, all the kids got together and recorded their own silly video inspired by the ‘Active wear’ parody.

It made my heart happy that Brielle’s sisters included her in the video too.

They valued her being in on the action.

She had no clue what they were doing, singing and acting and using a phone to record their video.

She wouldn’t have minded being in the other room scooting about on her new car or playing with her blocks, being independent and in her own wee bubble.

But it would have bothered me.

You see, although Brielle is developmentally and socially not at all at her age level, she needs to be included.

As her mama and number one advocate, I’m so thankful for my daughters, my nieces and nephews for coming to her level, and figuring out how they can include her, and figuring out a different kind of play.

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