It is easy to make playing with children painful. Most of the time it is done without thought or consideration of the difference in ages between the adult and the child. When this happens the adult or older person tends to act as if the child where at least as old they are. When the adult tries to force the child to behave in a manner that is more mature than the child actually is, the results is frustration and disappointment for everyone involved. After all, the child can only behave at the maximum of their current maturity, whereas the older person can behave as any age younger than they currently are.
Children are really good at inviting, or including others in the combination of imaginary and real world where they live. When you give your child the opportunity to interact and combine their experience of reality with imagination they often will do so in a way that they think will please the older the person, and at the same time, do their best to create laughter and joy. As an example, when a child sees a push broom and watches daddy or mommy mowing the lawn, the broom can easily become a lawn mower. Seeing the broom as a lawn mower requires the adult to use their imagination also.
How does an adult activate their own imagination? Is often very simple and not very easy. All of us began life with a rich imagination and we lost it by beginning to think that reality was more important than imagination. It does not matter when this occurred, or who encouraged it. A decreased ability in this kind of thinking, also known as concrete thinking, often leads to cynicism and the inability to be compassionate for many adults.
To activate one's imagination, it is helpful to think of how jokes are created. A joke is often created by putting two things together in an absurd manner. As an example, imagine two items a bicycle and a fish. Now imagine the fish riding the bicycle. Next, change the background, instead of having the fish in water put it in your front yard and next make the bicycle a unicycle. This idea is entirely absurd and will usually make a child over two years old laugh. The fact that you have imagined this gives proof to you that you have an imagination, and it is beginning to seem a little funny is it not?
So the easiest way to make it difficult to play with the child is to insist that everything be real. I submit to you that imagination is real.