“Can I come, too?”
Four little words. And with them, a crushed dream.
I was in the kitchen. Maybe I was scoffing down sour cream and chives potato chips, maybe I wasn’t. Not the point. Point was, when I looked down at my ankles, no-one was circling them. The kids were – gasp! – otherwise occupied. They were playing. There was no screaming. And I was not involved in any way. Heaven.
I saw a chance and I took it. But fuck me if that damn safety gate at the top of the stairs doesn’t squeak like a motherfucker. And then –
“Can I come, too?”
I was trying to run silently down the stairs but there is no silent running. Not really. And the smallest of movements from me will cause my children to prick up their ears like a deer in the woods. Like little fucking deers with supersonic fucking hearing.
All I wanted to do was take a piss alone. And if, once the solo piss was done, peace and calm still remained above, then I might think about putting some washing away. So, you know, selfish shit.
But no. I was busted. And even though I threw promises of a speedy return over my shoulder as I ran (silently, I tell you!) away, I knew that LD would stand at the top of the stairs shouting at me (‘Mumma, I need my blue bike! Where’s my blue bike, Mumma? Mumma, I want strawberry smoothie, cup of milk and juice. Mumma? Mummaaaaaaaaa?’) until I got my arse back upstairs. And that would alert Zee to the fact that I was gone and he would proceed to rattle the safety gate like a prison inmate and scream.
So what did I do? I pissed like I was going for an Olympic record and got the fuck back up there. Of course I did.
But I’m telling you, when I can take the opportunity to hide from my kids, I do. Oh, you better recognise. I hide and I’ll hide again. Because there is only so much I can reasonably be asked to take before my blood pressure causes me to spontaneously combust.
In one of my hiding sessions today (in Zee’s bedroom – they’ll never suspect!), I read an article by Mia Freedman about how she hates to play with her kids.
It got me thinking. I never even dreamed of discussing that on The Little Mumma. And I pride myself on telling the whole story, no matter how unpalatable it might sound to others.
But clearly, I am all messed up about the question of play.
There are two conflicting arguments, as I see it.
The first is that you should play and engage with your children as much as you can. Play is how they learn and your time is the most valuable thing you can give to your kids.
Wise words from a friend I greatly admire:
“It’s so easy to get caught up in all the pressures of the day that we brush our children aside. Next time your kid comes and tugs at your leg to come and play, drop onto the floor immediately and be in that moment with them. That’s all they really want.”
The other argument is that kids have wonderfully vivid imaginations so by encouraging your child to play alone, you are fostering this gift. An important part of a child’s development is the ability to play alone.
Wise words I read somewhere, one time:
“Children of today are given every conceivable toy or otherwise plonked in front of the television, and their imaginations are suffering because of it. Their inability to occupy themselves is a direct result of having their every demand met by someone (or something) else.”
Reading both those sets of wise words back to myself, is there any wonder I am confused? They both have merit.
So then it’s a matter of striking a balance between the two. The only problem is that the kid you just played Postman Man with for the last fifteen (torturous) minutes, doesn’t understand why you are now withdrawing the playing. LD just didn’t respond as I’d hoped when I explained that I was simply “fostering the precious gift of your imagination.”
But who am I kidding? I have never played with my kids for a full fifteen minutes. I have to stand with Mia on this one and profess that I fucking hate it. And when I do get guilted into it (“Hey Mumma,” curls little hand around mine, “you wanna play dinosaurs…for a little bit…” looks forlornly to the ground, refusing to meet my eye lest I spot the extent of his manipulation), I am renowned for making the dinosaurs lie on the ground to nap.
So I don’t know why I have never admitted it before. Maybe it’s because I consider myself a fun and vibrant mum. Hell, I am fun and vibrant but for fuck’s sake, I don’t want to crawl around on my knees being a lion. I refused to be a cow in drama class back in my university days (“..really try to feel the weight of your udder hanging between your legs..”) and it’s clear that nothing has changed.
So here it is. I hate playing. I don’t want to play dinosaurs or postman man or Buzz Lightyear. I don’t want to go to the park and if we go to the play centre, my preference is that the kids disappear for the entire duration so that I can catch up on some OK! magazines.
I feel bad. But it’s nothing this beer won’t fix.
Do you play with your kids? And enjoy it? Tell me about it….please?