Monday, September 15, 2014

Shhhhh! Don’t Say a Word…...The Children are Playing Nicely

Have you ever looked at a Pottery Barn Kids catalog?  You know, the one where the kids are both drawing or reading books at a small white table. Typically, they are wearing perfect clothing with perfectly coiffed hair in a perfectly organized playroom. 

Right now, my kids look like that. Except my daughter has a spot of barbecue sauce on her shirt and slightly disheveled hair.... and my son’s only wearing a shirt and a diaper.  Oh, and my “playroom” consists of carpet, some wall art and a few plastic bins of toys.   It’s not really even a playroom but a room connected to my bedroom...but I’ll take it.   And, I don't have a white table; my kids are sitting on the ground.  

But.the point is that my kids are playing nicely and they have been for the past half an hour.  

When both of my kids are playing quietly, I won’t disturb them, unless there’s a natural disaster and we need to evacuate.  You see, there have been times when my kids were playing nicely and then I asked them a question. The question might have been something as simple as What are you drawing? or Do you want a snack? It might not even be a question. It might be a sudden movement like me going into the playroom to grab a stray sock to put in the washing machine.  

It’s these questions and movements that cause my kids to stop what they are doing, look at me, and suddenly want something.  Gone is the quiet time. Gone is the time to pay bills, check my email or just sit on my bed, undisturbed, for a few moments. Suddenly, my two-year-old is tugging at my shirt saying “Mommy I’m hungry.” Soon thereafter, my six-year-old wants me to play with her.  

It’s not as if I don’t want to play with them.  But, I don’t want to play with them  All. Day. Long.  I need a little space and so do they.  After all, I believe independent play is important.  It helps them develop a sense of autonomy. So, when they are both playing independently, I’ve learned not to disrupt them….at least, not for something trivial.  It’s during this independent play when their imagination comes alive.  They are able to create palaces from blocks and make their dolls talk.   

So yes, when the kids are playing nicely, when they are searching for bugs in the backyard or picking flowers or laughing at each other’s silliness…….I just like to sit back and watch.  Although it can be bittersweet when my kids don’t need me, I love watching their special moments and inside jokes that they are creating without me.   In my toddler’s own words, “All by myself.”  After all, before long they will probably be fighting over who gets the last red Lego for their building project!  

What sorts of independent activities do your children like to engage in?