Fair Play

30 Jan

“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 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.

Playing is painful. And, SHIT, I need my roots done!

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?

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17 Responses to “Fair Play”

  1. Bron January 30, 2011 at 8:25 pm #

    You really do have to stop writing about me and my life! Its starting to get freaky. LOL

    I love your honesty. Your awesome!

    • Angie aka The Little Mumma January 30, 2011 at 8:32 pm #

      Thanks Bron! I love that you read my blog so faithfully. Love you!

      I always thought I’d like playing with my kids. Maybe it’s because they’re boys??? I reckon I could handle a session of Barbies action!

  2. Ruthy January 30, 2011 at 9:15 pm #

    I am totally with you on this one!!! I escaped outside today – once the day cooled a bit – to paint the house. Left hubby with the kids and had an hour of menial labour all to myself. Bliss!!!!! Sweaty bliss.
    PS. Love the mental image of you peeing like an olympian – you make me laugh girl 🙂

    • Angie aka The Little Mumma January 31, 2011 at 6:39 am #

      You painted in that heat? Jeepers, Ruthy. I would have passed out! But for an hour of alone time, I can see your point. That’s why the gym is now my favourite thing to do.

  3. Jane January 30, 2011 at 10:24 pm #

    See I am one to drop everything when my boy asks me to play…why? Because he has an autism spectrum disorder and when he says “want to play Mumma” a. it melts my heart and b. me playing with him reinforces all the great things we are working to achieve through our rather intensive early intervention program.

    Unfortunately he doesn’t ask that often as he sometimes forgets words he has learnt and doesn’t have the same socialisation skills as his peers but I do the biggest happy dance when he does. Play is a huge part of his life that we use to help teach him skills that he doesn’t pick up like other littlies do.

    I sometimes find it a drag as I am always having to model language and play skills and it’s hard work, but it is starting to pay off. I just love it when he does some spontaneous imaginative play though, makes it all worthwhile.

    Mind you, you can find me pissfarting around on one computer while he is on the other, I have taught him those playskills too, the kid has excellent mouse handling and can work his way around a website which gives us both a break 🙂 gotta love a Mumma who is also an IT trainer.

    • Angie aka The Little Mumma January 31, 2011 at 7:05 am #

      Jane, it cannot be easy and I completely understand that being asked to play would present an important opportunity for you and your little boy. I hope I would have more patience if we were in a similar situation. Because I really have so very little patience as it stands!

      Watching LD develop his imaginative play has been thrilling for me. One of my very favourite things. But I just wish I could be a silent spectator rather than an active participant!

  4. Rae January 31, 2011 at 8:05 am #

    Oh yeah – i’m hearing you! Some days i really do love some good quality play time with my kids and most of the time we all end up having a ball together. They can be such cute and funny little monkeys. BUT i have to admit that it’s often difficult to muster up the enthusiasm and high energy that they desperately want from me. I can’t even watch Hi 5 or the like because their energetic personalities make me sick, and after a few minutes of watching them i feel exhausted. And to think i was an early childhood and primary school teacher…

    • Angie aka The Little Mumma January 31, 2011 at 11:46 am #

      their energetic personalities make me sick

      Oh man, that made me laugh!

      And yeah, there are times when playing is really fun, often when B is there because he is so good at playing – although after reading this he was like, “Oh my god, I hate playing with the kids too!” Poor little bastards.

      And then, it depends on the game. LD and I had a bounce on the trampoline together just before and were in hysterics. And I am definitely looking forward to board games. Family night board games. Yay!

      But I’d much rather watch LD and Zee play together. It’s hilarious!

  5. MJ January 31, 2011 at 10:15 am #

    I have to confess, I ain’t that great when it comes to play. I don’t avoid it altogether… but I do get bored, and very quickly. I don’t even think that a child’s gender comes into it at this early age – no Barbie dolls in this house, at least not yet. I feel I should get involved with WAY more play than I do, though.

    I’d say I subscribe more to the school of letting them entertain themselves, but I haven’t arrived at that conclusion via copious amounts of parenting literature. Nope. I’m just lazy, and that road is easier for me.

    My happy compromise is to set up some kind of art station – paints, crayons, coloured paper, toilet rolls 😉 and glue. I’m lucky enough that this actually keeps F enthralled for hours (really!) and she makes all kinds of critters and creations, all off her own steam and without wanting or needing much help. I tell myself that this helps her imagination as much as playing with me does.

    Keep being real, Angie. I love it.

    • Angie aka The Little Mumma January 31, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

      Oh Mad, I so wish LD was like F. If I set him up with craft shit, he will only stay focused if I am doing it with him. Otherwise he loses interest or makes a crazy mess with the glue. Painting seems to occupy him for longer but that’s just a nightmare waiting to happen, too. And then, none of it is possible if Zee is awake because he will get into everything, LD will scream and I’ll be reduced to a rocking, glitter-covered ball in the corner.

      • MJ February 1, 2011 at 6:07 am #

        Yep, glitter sucks! And I am dreading when P also wants to get in on the arty act. For now, she has no idea because I make F sit at the big table to do this stuff.

        I’ve realised I am a very boring mother. Must work on that…

  6. carol townsend January 31, 2011 at 2:33 pm #

    just loved this one Angie, it takes me back to when my boys were toddlers and so demanding of your time. Mothers are being pulled in all directions at once, and finding time to have a pee, shower or the biggest luxury of all a shampoo (let alone getting your roots done) is usually last on the list.
    But, their demands will always take priority, as much as it drives you crazy, so until school age, its them first, peeing second, housework sometimes, lots of good food and laughter – a happy home which you always provide.

    • Angie aka The Little Mumma January 31, 2011 at 4:02 pm #

      Thanks, Carol. 🙂 Yes, I have certainly accepted that I am well down the list of priorities now! But without laughter and chocolate, I fear I would not survive….

  7. Sarah January 31, 2011 at 5:05 pm #

    hahahahahaa! All true here, in particularly the hiding! there are days i think i will combust if I hear “mummy” one more time! I agree with the no love of imaginary play – Master A’s ongoing fascination with garbage trucks makes for very very boring play.He gets a few minutes from me before I just can’t think of anything else for that damn truck to do…. But – I love dropping everything and chasing them both around the house, the yard, the street, squealing like an idiot. That’s my kinda play! x

    • Angie aka The Little Mumma January 31, 2011 at 5:46 pm #

      He gets a few minutes from me before I just can’t think of anything else for that damn truck to do…

      Hahaha! Indeed.

      I totally agree that the crazy shenanigans is king of all play. Postman man is just arse.

  8. D.Rene. February 2, 2011 at 11:47 am #

    No crawling for you, damn it! I’m more manager-type Mommy than I am playful-type Mommy. That’s why I’m pretty freakin’ excited that my kids are older now. At 11 and 16, they couldn’t care less about me hanging out. As long as I can buy food, they tolerate me.

    • Angie aka The Little Mumma February 2, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

      Darice – yes! I look forward to the time when hanging out with me is considered a serious last resort. And I hope they sleep later, too.

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