One of my favorite aspects of having children who are close in age is seeing them playing together. Hearing one of them call down the hallway, “Come on, Tanner!” Eavesdropping as one of them tells the other to “attend this is a castle”… instead of pretend.
And while it does bother me a lot to hear them giggling and squealing their way through “quiet time,” it does kind of touch my heart, too.
It certainly isn’t always giggles and squeals and misuse of words, of course. They fight, and they both want to be the hero, and one ends up crying fairly often. He wants to play RescueBots, and she wants to have a princess tea party. He wants to know why the hist monster trucks aren’t welcome at the ball.
But the sad part of this story is the separation of my 5- and 3-year-olds this year. Samantha has started school full-time this year, which leaves Tanner with, well, me. Five days a week. My 18-month-old doesn’t provide a lot of stimulating play for her big brother, so the burden falls on me.
“Mommy, play with me!”
I consider myself a pretty fun mom. I do crazy voices, and I love to snuggle, and I love to read books to my babies.
It’s like I’ve escaped out of a post-Peter Pan movie, like the lost boys in Hook are staring at me in dismay and devastation. I’ve forgotten how to play.
When did this happen? I have very fond memories of playing by myself with my dollhouse for hours on end. All sorts of crazy stories were played out with my toys. Maybe it’s one of the reasons I always wanted to be a writer and tell fantastic stories. I just loved it.
But now, faced with those tiny RescueBot figurines, I’m at a complete loss.
If you’re like me, and you’re useless in the face of a Barbie or a Paw Patrol pup, let’s try to make a conscious choice. Look past those crazy, terrifying toys, and see the big, longing eyes of the child holding them. At the risk of sounding like one of those songs that make me cry whenever I hear them or my husband quotes them to me — in the blink of an eye, they won’t be asking us to play with them anymore.
Next year, I’ll be sending that sweet boy to preschool. That’s three days per week that he won’t be looking to me to be a playmate. Then, the year after that, he’ll be gone, every weekday. And when he’s home, he probably won’t want me to play with him.
So I’ll make a conscious effort to grasp that doll or AutoBot or Octonaut and play make-believe. The dishes can wait.