This picture of my son Thomas was taken when he was on vacation with friends during a college break. A grown man, and a warrior at that, building castles in the sand.

Ever since Tom could walk, he has been digging, building, sculpting, creating. Foxholes and defensive earthworks for his GI Joes. Play forts and tree houses. Primitive shelters for himself and his siblings.

A couple of years ago, Tom and his brother Ben wanted to see if they could build a weatherproof shelter using only their hands and materials they found in the woods.

But Tom doesn’t limit his creative energy to castles and forts. He draws and paints and sculpts beautiful things with clay. He plays music, constructs costumes, and creates word plays.

One of the things I love most about Thomas is that even now, as a great big strong man, he still knows how to play. Even as an adult, Tom makes play an integral part of his life.

Oh, not perhaps the typical “man” play – no virility contests on the athletic field, no posturing at the gym, no ostentatious displays of manly vigor – but genuine play, play simply for the joy of playing.

Friends, over the past several decades, while I was washing and folding an endless stream of laundry, and wiping noses and bottoms, and cooking, cooking, cooking, and scrubbing dishes, and teaching math lessons, and keeping everyone up-to-date on their vaccinations, and driving to swim practice and piano lessons and dental appointments, while I was busy doing the never-pausing, all-consuming work of mothering a houseful of children, I neglected something very important.

I forgot to play.

Thankfully, my children – my adult children – are willing teachers. Thankfully, they invite me into their creative worlds. My tutors are so much fun, how can I not be an eager student?!

I have neglected my education for far too long. It is high time for school. Let the lessons begin!

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