Thursday, July 26, 2007

Play Quotient

When I look at other parents playing with their children, I wonder how do it - act like they were three again and do such a convincing job of it. The kids usually have a lot of fun with this kind of parent. This is a skill I just don't have and feel constantly guilty about not doing right by J.

Another mom would have played Barbies with her, but I tell J to find something to do so I can finish reading my book or complete my chore. So when J spots a friend in neighborhood, she dashes at lightning speed to be with them. Bringing her back home is not easy either no matter how many hours she has spent with this friend. She seems perpetually play deprived.

When at home, I encourage her to have conversations with pretend friends, dance to some music from our collection, color, read, write her journal - anything but ask me to play with her. J has heard me go on at length on the importance of being able to find happiness in solitude and how her happiness should not be dependent on something or someone, that she should learn to enjoy her own company before she can truly enjoy the company of others. Being make friends is most desirable but to need them desperately is not. I know I frustrate her at times but that does not seem to diminish my zeal for preaching the truth as I know it.

She often complains that she is bored and wants someone to play with. The demand for a sibling comes up frequently in these conversations. I make peace by calling Lindsey or Sirisha to see if their kids would like to play with J. Most often they do and I am off the hook for a bit. Once J has skipped out the front door, I start to wonder what long term damage I am doing to my child by unwilling to be her playmate.

To say that I don't know how is not an acceptable excuse - maybe I should take lessons from those other moms who are so good at it. Nothing is impossible if you apply yourself to it diligently. In the end, I have to admit I just don't enjoy the idea of being five again and playing with J.

I love talking to her, teaching her things, getting her to help in the kitchen, working on craft projects together but I can't for the life of me play with her like I was a kid again. Reading this article was gratifying for a couple of reasons. First, there are other parents like me who are not able to play with their kids and second parent-play is not necessarily a good thing.


Anonymous said...

Pick some sports which you and J both enjoy together and then you go gurls.
My kids great grand-parents learned new games and still enjoy playing with them. Learning is a life time process always.

You will love and learn to play with J.


ggop said...

Agree with above commenter - are there any board games at her level?

At 5, she is still too young to grasp concepts like being able to amuse herself without depending on others.
Besides, she is not you. It may have been very easy for you to do that at her age. She may be a social butterfly :-) (I mean it in the nicest possible way)

ggop said...

Also, I appreciate the article. My parents played games with us only on long train journeys to kill time.
They were silly games like say the name of a city/town, use the last letter of the previous place and find a place (Antakshari with places)
Yeah - we were bit silly that way.

Heartcrossings said...

ggop - Yes, I have tried board games. J does not like following the rules. Of couse she must win always if she is playing with me :) And she is indeed the social butterfly ! She craves company and lots of it.

Savitha - we may try tennis when she is a little older.