Fundirected activities

What you just said reminded me of something Angela said, and you might be curious to know what it was. Angela was someone about the same age as you, and when I asked her what she would like to be doing more of, her words may not have been the same as yours but I think the meaning was. She answered, "Having fun."

I never did learn why Angela wasn't having as much fun as she wanted. In fact, it might have been that she was having some fun and wanted to have more. Maybe we didn't even need to talk about the reasons behind why Angela had come to see me, because I guess she already knew them at some level. Just talking about them a lot more—particularly to someone she didn't know really well—wasn't necessarily going to make a lot of difference. And it seemed to me that when Angela asked to find more ways of having fun, a part of her already knew what she wanted and needed to do.

So I asked Angela what she did for fun in her life at that moment. She stopped and thought for a little while, then said, "I have fun playing with my baby sister, but sometimes she starts to cry and Mom blames me for upsetting her. So it isn't always fun."

She thought a little longer and said, "Sometimes it's fun playing with my friends. We can laugh and giggle a lot, but other times, when they pick on me, it's not such fun."

"In those times—even if they are brief times," I asked, "what does that fun feel like?"

"I don't know," she answered.

"That's okay," I said. "Sometimes we don't have to have the words for a feeling to know what that feeling feels like. If you think about it now, is it possible to feel it?"

She closed her eyes for a moment, a smile started to creep into the corners of her mouth, and she nodded her head.

"What do you notice about what is happening in your body?" I asked.

"My stomach feels sort of warm," she said. "I can feel the smile on my face, it's nice."

I replied, "I wonder, if there are times when you want to feel that fun feeling but can't play with your baby sister or have a giggle with your friends, how you can do what you just did now. How can you close your eyes and feel the warmth in your tummy or smile on your face?"

"I guess I can just do it," she said, and opened her eyes, still smiling.

"Of your friends," I asked, "who do you think has the most fun, happiness, or joy?"

"Libby," answered Angela without hesitation. "She always seems to be fooling around. She is sort of the class clown."

"What is it that Libby does that helps contribute to her feelings of fun?"

"She is playful," answered Angela. "She is always telling jokes or playing practical jokes on other kids. Once she put a rubber spider in another girl's desk then waited for her to open the lid and scream."

"I wouldn't necessarily want you to do all the things that Libby does," I said. "Nor do I want you to get into trouble for putting rubber spiders in other kids' desks to see if they scream in the middle of class—but I am wondering if there are any things that Libby does that you might be able to do to create more fun."

"I guess by being a little more playful," answered Angela.

"How could you be more playful?" I inquired.

"I guess I could just be a little more relaxed, tell some more jokes, or fool around a little bit more with the other kids at times," Angela responded.

"Is there anyone else that you think is a good example of how to have fun?" I continued.

"Well," said Angela, "Karen seems to have a lot of fun because she has a lot of friends. They always go around together laughing and having a good time."

"And what is it that Karen does to have both friends and fun?"

"She invites them around to her place after school," answered Angela. "She has a lot of sleep-overs. She visits the other kids' homes."

"Are there things that Karen does for fun that you can do for yourself?"

"Maybe I can talk to Mom," said Angela, "about inviting some friends around after school or having them sleep over one weekend."

"And is there anyone else you think of as a fun-filled person—or do you think that you've got enough things to work on already?" I asked.

"Joanne always seems to be doing a lot of things that are fun. She competes in squash after school on Fridays, is learning the guitar, and plays basketball on weekends. She is always talking about all the things that she's done and about how much fun they are for her."

"Doing things that we enjoy can be fun," I agreed. "Are there things that you'd like to be doing more of in your life to have fun?"

"I've thought I'd like to go to ballet classes," said Angela. "That would be fun."

As Angela began to plan the things she wanted to do, a smile ofjoy started to creep back on her face again. I guess I didn't need to tell her what joy felt like or what the things were that she could begin to do to have fun. She was already starting to discover them for herself, and it probably all started with that thing I remember her saying: I want to have more fun.

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