Do you play with your kids?
Sir Monkeypants likes to play with them. He likes chase games, running games, throwing-things-at-each-other games. He likes to dangle the kids upside down and to pretend he’s a shark stalking them in the water and to hunt them with squirt guns.
I find I don’t have the energy for that kind of stuff very often. So much of my everyday work is physical — schlep the laundry, haul the groceries, pick up this kid, stir that pot, give a bath, break up a fight, change a diaper. When I have playtime with the kids, I prefer board games, reading books snuggled under a blanket, colouring pictures, painting.
So between the two of us, I’d say our kids get a good balance of action.
Neither Sir Monkeypants nor I can play pretend games for any length of time at all. Games like this: “You be this doggie and I will be this bear. My bear says hello to your doggie. Now, what should they do?”
We got away without playing much of this kind of thing with the Captain. He’s very good at engrossing himself in his own little world. He can get out his Star Wars figures, and an hour later you’ll wander by and hear him muttering on the floor about “Now entering the death star” and “Roger roger” and “Ready for take off” and all is well.
But Gal Smiley likes to have a friend along for the ride. A playmate. And worse, what she really wants is someone to guide the action. Someone to provide all the imagination, someone to direct the story.
I don’t know why, exactly, but I find this kind of constant creativity to be extremely taxing. I just can’t muster up the enthusiasm to decide whether Barbie should go to a party or to the mall, to invent the rules of a new form of soccer game for Doggie and Bear, to dream up a lesson plan for the Polly Pockets as they attend art school. It hurts my brain, and I find myself looking for an excuse to get out almost as soon as we’ve begun.
Maybe it’s that I’m not a very creative person, or maybe I’m just not that interested in telling tales. Maybe I got my fill of this kind of thing as a kid (Lord knows, I played Barbies with FameThrowa for enough hours to qualify for a Ph.D.). All I know now is, when Gal Smiley approaches with a couple of stuffed animals in hand and looks at me with those giant brown eyes, asking me shyly to “Please play with me,” then I groan inside a little bit.
Want to do a puzzle instead? Maybe get out the PlayDoh? Make a bracelet from beads?
Okay. Five minutes of Doggie and Bear, and then I HAVE to…go.