If you do a Google search for “teach your kid to play”, the top results returned are for teaching your kid how to play ALONE. I totally get this. It’s good to go poo by yourself. It’s good to be able to cook dinner without toddler help. It’s good to lie down after a long day and moan about the last 33 weeks of nausea.
But I had to scroll down and do a little extra searching before I found anything about how parents can teach their children how to play by playing WITH them.
Nathan and I had a conversation about this a few weeks ago. Mostly, he informed me that we don’t do this often, but it is important to actually teach our kiddos how to play. We do this through example, of course. If, for instance, you play cars with your kid and they CRASH and BANG into each other, your kid will turn around and play the same, whether with cars or with his own body.
I’d never thought about this before, but it makes sense. So then I got to thinking about it, to make up for not thinking about it, of course.
I thought about the time that I do spend with Dom, when I’m not working, sleeping, weeding, or taking a poop break. What do I do with him?
Sometimes, I lie on the couch and hand him my phone or the Kindle. He’s usually playing a numbers or letters game so he’s learning, which makes this okay, right?
Sometimes, I go outside in the backyard with him and collapse into one of the deck chairs while he asks me if I want to dig with him in the sand pile. “When baby sister is born,” I say, too often.
Sometimes, I manage to get my butt down on the ground and sit with him to draw with sidewalk chalk. He requests things like a car wash, train, bus, or Pogi. The other day, he requested Pogi. Then he said to draw Pogi biting his finger. I started by drawing his finger and then he instructed me to draw more of him: “draw my head, eyes, mouth, hands, feet, chest.”
Sometimes, I sit down with him while he plays with his wooden train set. I watch. He drives the train around and tells me about the conductor.
Sometimes, he asks me to sit at the piano with him so I pull out the bench and we sit down. He flips through the Children’s Song Book and stops on pictures that he likes and requests that I play and sing.
Sometimes, he requests other games to play and I suggest that “Dada would like to play with him.”
So basically what I’m saying is that I need to work on playing with my kid sometimes.
When baby sister is born…