“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” — Frederick Douglass
This is a story about the importance of a strong play foundation for piglets.
(I mean children.)
The Three Little Pigs
Once upon a time, there were three little pigs: Penelope, Patrick, and Peter.
Penelope spent her youth in her pigpen, primarily watching people and animals prance around on screens, pretending to be something other than what they really were. She knew all the latest, most popular animal trends and as a teenager spent her waking hours maintaining her “streaks” and predictably posting on social media. Penelope’s most prized possession was her phone, which she placed protectively under her pillow every night.
As a very young pig, Patrick was sent to a Private Pig School where he spent his waking hours playing on several sports teams, participating in numerous extracurricular activities, and constantly studying for his AP (Advanced Pig) courses. Not a minute of Patrick’s life was wasted. He looked forward to a future in “the real world,” which his parents had been preparing him for since he was a very young piglet. To be honest, the future seemed a lot less stressful and hectic than his past and present life. His most prized possessions were his numerous trophies and certificates, proving his perfect pig status.
Peter Pig also had a phone and occasionally posted on social media. As a teenage pig, he also played a team sport and took AP courses, but as a little pig, he primarily played. Hour after hour, day after day he played around the farm- every chance he had. He got into scrapes and then figured out how to get out of them. He made friends with the other animals, and over the years grew and learned about himself and others. He knew most everything about his farm community and knew most everything about the animals who lived there! Peter’s most prized possessions were his playmates and his personal experiences.
One day the three young adult pigs set out to begin their lives. Their first task was to build their houses.
Penelope was exhausted by the whole ordeal and quickly constructed a house of straw. Unfortunately, her house had hardly any foundation. When a troublesome wolf came along, (as it always does) the straw house just didn’t stand a chance. Poor Penelope had no idea what to do, and no motivation to do anything anyway. She posted a picture of her destroyed house, then moved in with her cousin, Prunella. Unfortunately, she primarily spent her days staring at the screen of her phone, being both distracted and entertained. Not having any real-world skills, and no real motivation, she had to depend on others for her basic needs for the rest of her life.
Patrick had many skills, but few were relevant to living in the real world. Mostly, he had excellent test-taking skills. Unfortunately, no one was currently hiring a professional test taker. Patrick was also burned out from being “on” all the time, and the stress and pressure of constantly competing were beginning to get to him. The stick house he made looked very neat and nice, but his house lacked a strong foundation. When a troublesome wolf came along, (as it always does) his house didn’t blow away completely, but there was significant damage. It would be a lot of work to rebuild. Unfortunately, Patrick had been working all his life and just couldn’t muster the energy to fix his house. So, he moved back in with his parents. Perhaps in a year or so he would try it again.
Peter planned his house thoughtfully, (executive functioning skills) bartered with his neighbors for materials, (social skills), and was determined to do things right, even if it took a while (emotional skills.) Peter’s house had a strong foundation. When a troublesome wolf came along, (as it always does) Peter’s house, with a solid stone foundation, remained standing. And he lived and played happily ever after!
P.S. A strong, healthy foundation is important for all children. But it is absolutely essential for those children who live in neighborhoods with resident wolves.
Play on, my friends!