Go to Google and type in “I don’t like playing” and the second automatic fill in is “with my kids” while the third is “with my child”. Apparently there are a lot of blogs, Yahoo Questions and the like out there about moms who feel guilty over the fact that they don’t like playing games with their children. I have to join them in that sentiment. Maybe it makes me a bad mom, but I really don’t like playing with my toddlers. I have a three year old and an almost two year old, and for the most part they are actually very good at playing by (or with) themselves. But, I do get requests scattered through out the day to assist in a 50 piece puzzle, stack a bridge for Thomas the Train, or the answer to a Vtech computer game. Almost always, my answer is the same; “I’ll help you this time, but I’m not going to do it for you.” Of course I get frustrated & end up finishing the task. Then I feel even worse because 1. I didn’t make the boy try, 2. Nobody learned anything, and 3. Apparently if they whine loud (or long) enough I’ll give in.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy engaging with my children. I love reading to them (for the most part…), reciting letters & numbers with them, creating art projects & school projects with them–I even like toilet training them. Basically, I enjoy the activities that have structure, motive, and a clear-cut goal (or ending). But….some times I don’t. As a stay-at-home-mom I feel that I have a lot of duties that need to be full filled in the course of a day. Yes, I need to be there for my kids, but I also have dishes from last night that need to get done sometime today, an overwhelming pile of laundry to address, meals to plan and execute, as well as general dusting, mopping, ironing, planning, shopping, listing, blah, blah, blah. (I stay at home to
run the household, not just the kids or their entertainment.)
I was asked…begged…pleaded with to play “the ladder game” all.damn.day. AM, the three-year old, was referring to Chutes & Ladders. “In a bit.” “Hang on; my hands are soapy with these dishes.” “But IM chews on the pieces.” “But you don’t count properly.” But Mommy just doesn’t want to play a board game! I know it’s good for them when I play with them. They know it’s good for them (why else would they ask so often, right?). But, well, most of these activities are just boring. I know, I know…how selfish of me! But you, dear reader, can’t deny that building a Penguins of Madagascar puzzle for the third time today, which you do everyday, is just a wee bit tedious. I mean, my parents didn’t play with me either, and now I know why. Sure, they were there for me. They interacted by teaching, coaching, helping, directing–but they did not play games, puzzles, or give me answers to get to the next level. I’m sure my kids will turn out just fine if I don’t…
Do I play with my children? Yes. Because I want to? Sometimes. Because I need to? Always. My children need me to play with them, in so many facets, they desperately need their momma to play with them. And so I do. There may be a fake smile plastered to my face; my “This imaginary ham sandwich is delicious!” may be a little obligatory; my input on the trains and their endless journeys around the track just may be a wee bit, quite possibly, forced, but it’s there. My love is genuine. My desire for them to learn and grow is real. Do I blow them off? Sure I do. When I am truly busy with cleaning, or cooking, or feeding an infant I tell them that I can’t or flat out don’t want to play at the moment and I’ll play when I’m done. My boys are strong. They take it all in stride, readjust their focus, and deal with it. And fifteen minutes later I join them in their playroom with a laugh fest or tent building and we have a grand time.
But I don’t give in to play Chutes & Ladders. That I just can’t bring myself to do no matter how good for them it may be.