Saturday, May 21, 2011

Child's Play

I have a confession to make.  It is really rather shameful and I am embarrassed to admit it, but in the interest of full disclosure and honesty, I feel I must share my secret.

I do not like to play with my kids.

There.  I said it.  In some ways I feel better, but I still feel like I am betraying them and completely neglecting my children and their needs.

Now, I shouldn't say I hate to play with them ALL the time.  There are several activities I do enjoy like playing with Barbies, coloring, painting with watercolors, reading books to the kids and going to the park.  I enjoy giving horse back rides and doing Superman on knees, but I secretly know these two games also provide a good core workout.  Hey, they used my body for 9 months each, I think I am entitled to use their weight as resistance for my benefit!

I do not, however, enjoy talking like a princess or a queen or a mean witch for a half-hour and getting scolded when I break character.  I hate playing board games, match games and puzzles with more than 10 pieces.  Part of this is because I am competitive and lack patience and the other half is because I have to battle Colin who usually has a gingerbread man from Candyland in his mouth.

Hide-and-go-seek has got to be the most painful.  Maddie still hasn't quite grasped the finer details of this game and will go hide and before I can even count to ten, she runs out and says, "Here I am!"  Then she actually expects me to get up and go hide for her, which wouldn't be a big deal except she usually asks me to play this game two seconds after I plop down on the couch to relax. 

The swing set is another one of my least favorite activities.  I long for the day when I can use it as a way to unleash the kids on the backyard for my own sanity rather than having to stand and push two swings at a time or climb up and down the stairs to pretend I am in Rapunzel's tower or watch intently to make sure Colin doesn't walk directly off the back of the playhouse that is 6 feet off the ground. I keep trying to convince Maddie to recruit Colin as her playmate instead of me, and inform her that we purposely had him so she would have someone to play with.

I know that this all sounds selfish, but let's be clear, I've never been good at playing.  I am fairly certain I came out of my mother's womb as a 35-year old, well at least with the soul of one. Because I had two older brothers who were eight and 5 years older than me, I spent a lot of time playing by myself.  I did a lot of talking to myself or to my dolls or to a tape recorder.  Once I got into school and was thrust into the world of groups and clicks, I was a fish out of water.  I hated trying to "fit in" and was fortunate that I had some innate skills that carried me through. Believe it or not, at one time I was shy.

I also lacked coordination which made sports a major disappointment.  I played softball in grade school and junior high and spent most of my time kicking dandelions in right field.  I did enjoy some success as a catcher, but once I got to high school, I found out I was the most worthless left-hander known to man because I couldn't play first base and I was a right-handed batter.  Someone should have told my Little League coach that lefties aren't supposed to be catchers and was ruining my chances of ever making the team in high school.
At the park, I couldn't do the monkey bars, the swings made me nauseous and that merry-go-round thing mad me dizzy and want to puke.  I didn't do much climbing because I was, and still am, afraid of heights.  I could never do a cartwheel and could also barely swim to save my life.

That is not to say I didn't have fun as a child, but it was limited to riding my bike, reading, playing with Barbies and pretending I was someone and somewhere else.  While I certainly have honed my social skills and love talking to people, I have always been a loner and kind of prefer it that way.

I watch Maddie at the park and she longs to find a "swiend" to play with.  I encourage her to approach other kids and introduce herself like I was never able to do as a kid.  I am pained to see her get ignored by a couple girls who are all there together and aren't willing to let an "outsider" in to their click.  Usually, Maddie finds someone just as eager as her to find a playmate and they skip off to play tag or princess or whatever tickles their fancy.  That allows me to focus on Colin who is usually stealing some one's ball or eating dirt.

I try to muster up all my energy and break free from my inability to play, but sometimes I just have to realize that my role as the mom is different.  I am jealous of my husband who seems to really have the patience for child's play, but have to realize he is a kid at heart.  That is why I love him so much.  Even before kids, he has taught me how to have fun.  He encourages me to play with the kids, but is also there to pick up the slack when I am just too tired and bored to push the swing another second. I am also the "cuddler" and the kids need to have their "Momma Time" with me on the couch before they head up to bed. 

I think my other issue lies in the fact that while I am "playing" I know there are 50 other things that need to be done.  When I take the kids out front to play with the neighbors, I know that at some point I will have to drag them in kicking and screaming so I can make dinner.  When I am lining up stuffed animals so they can wait their turn to see Dr. Maddie, Pet Vet, that there is a sink of dirty dishes that need to be cleaned.  When I am putting together a hologram puzzle that makes me see double and get a little queasy, I know that there is a load of laundry that needs to be switched to the dryer and three laundry baskets that need to be folded.

I can say with the utmost certainty that motherhood has taught me a lot about myself and most of it has been humbling to say the least. Therefore, I can admit that I suck at being a kid.  For the sake of my children, I am working on it.  I have learned to rearrange my dinner menu to make quicker meals if it means staying outside an extra half hour.  I take the kids swimming despite my fear of water and wearing a bathing suit. I have learned to enjoy swinging on the swing without getting motion sickness and will climb up and down the slide at least a few times upon request.  I am really thankful that Colin, despite his ability to seek out trouble, can sit and play with his train table for hours on end.  I am also thankful Maddie is now starting to get into Barbies because she loves to sit in her room and make them talk to each other.  Barbies are also something that I actually enjoy playing with Maddie and I could truly can sit and do (with or without her) for hours.  Now, if I could just do a cartwheel and learn to swim, my life would be complete.


  1. I thought I was the ONLY person that felt this way. I keep telling myself it will be easier when Cole gets older and has a longer attention span that that of a nat! Thanks for shedding light on this thing that is "hard to say" sometimes! I swear sometimes I feel like we are the same person. LOL

  2. Michelle - that's what grandmothers are for! Although, I have to admit, I get tired of being the voice of "pinky" the ladybug. After awhile your throat hurts from trying to talk with such a high-pitched voice. Great blog!

  3. i agree 100%. my daughter is an alpha female/director/drill sergeant when I play with her. soooo annoying. I'm really great at reading bedtime stories though.