Sunday, February 21, 2010
Play with Me!
How much do you play with your kids?
This was the topic of discussion on a list I'm subscribed to.
Playing with your kids can be-face it-boring. Often, you simply find yourself staring into space and letting the child's voice bounce of you, your mind drifting to the things you need to get done.
Other times, you are too busy and you don't feel like it but you force yourself for fear of upsetting your child, or in the hope of preventing a fight between siblings. Perhaps you are motivated by guilt and so not playing with your child feels like neglect.
But your heart is not in it. You are not all there. So is that wrong?
Many will tell you that it is good to let children figure out how to be resourceful and entertain themselves. Some children are really good at this, others not so. My youngest daughter (aged 11) still wants me to play dolls with her, or 'hide and go seek,' her all time favourite.
While my husband and I absolutely encouraged our three kids to play on their own, we decided that we would always make time to play with them if they asked us to.
We made this decision because to us, play is fundamental to learning. Play is the imagination at work. Play is developing ideas, utilizing one's creativity and most importantly of all, a chance to strengthen the bonds between ourselves and our children.
Our oldest daughter is now 14 and all through her life she has role played 'characters' from her favourite books. Starting from Winnie the Pooh:"Do you love your bear, Christopher Robin?" (guess who was CR?), to the Paper bag Princess (guess who was the Dragon?), to Thomas the Tank Engine (guess who was Sir Topham Hat or Diesel 10 the bad engine?) to Lord of the Rings; she, Frodo, I, Bilbo Baggins, Saruman, Orcs and so on and so forth, my daughter's imagination has been fired by books.
She no longer needs me to be a character in her play acting:now she wants me to look at the drawings shes creates (involving Artemis Fowl and Holly or the Manga series with Roy and Reesa).
She wants me to help her sew a costume for the upcoming Anime North event in Toronto.
Her father and I support her creativity by encouraging her with her writing. It's still play but now as she gets older, it's starting to get called 'work.'
I want to continue being part of my children's play as they move into young adulthood and feel honoured and happy when I am invited to participate. It's a wonderful way to develop strong relationships.