Where did I go wrong? I’m afraid I have screwed up my kids beyond repair….crap.
As I’ve detailed before, Drew is not big on imaginitive play. He will go along with a game suggested by a friend or more likely a cousin, but he never really buys into it and is secretly just waiting for a chance to play a game or find some electronics. He will readily tell you that he doesn’t need or want toys because he knows he won’t play with them. He is totally fine with not getting presents for his birthday and gave away many of his Christmas presents. It is both frustrating and sweet that he is so self-aware but I keep questioning where I went wrong.
Bridget is very similar to Drew int hat vein, in fact right now she is laying in her bed sobbing her little eyes out because I told her to play. Yes, to both Drew and Bridget, toys and playing are often seen as a punishment. I told her that I needed to work for a little bit and she needed to find something to do. It got very quiet, scary, so I went to check on her and found her lying peacefully in her bed. She is a child that will choose to just hang out on her bed, doing absolutely nothing, rather than find something to play on her own. What the hell?
She differs from Drew a little bit in that she will sort of get into imaginary play if someone helps her set it up and then sneaks away once she gets involved. It typically isn’t long before she notices I’ve escaped, however, and she is right back at my side asking (or telling) me to play with her.
I honestly just put my daughter in time out and these words came out of my mouth, “You are not going to bed, you are going to play because playing is fun.” I did not say it nicely, then I told her to sit still on her monkey rug until I came to get her. Mixed messages much? I’m sure she is thinking, boy I can’t wait to play when mom comes to get me, she said it’s fun, I had no idea!
Where did I go wrong? Did I play with them too much or not encourage enough imaginitive play? Did I structure their playtime too much or fail because I typically make them put one toy or game away before getting out another? Did that stifle their creativity?
I should mention that Sam isn’t much better at using his imagination to play, he is just better at entertaining himself. He never really set up imaginary worlds but would instead just methodically line up his cars or animals in perfectly straight and categorized lines. When I would try to liven things up a bit he would flip out and remind me that this particular horse came with the Little People barn and goes in this stall because that is where the picture of the horse is. I mean really, who would dream of putting a penguin in a chicken coop or a rhinocerous in a cow stall? And no person in their right mind would put a blue car smack in the middle of a line of red cars!
I remember setting up Little People villages and playing for hours, or it felt like hours then. My sister and I were constantly playing office and attending meetings in the bathroom with the giant pink bunny boss sitting on the washing machine. Then we would play school when our friends were over, my personal favorite, or set up a store in the basement or play restaurant and cook up some fancy meals. Why don’t my kids do that?
Have I let them watch too much TV? I don’t feel like it is totally overboard but I do think our kids are spoiled with all of the cartoon and kids’ programming. Remember when cartoons were only on Saturday morning and you looked forward to it all week and got up early to watch Muppet Babies? Now it is TV on demand with pause and rewind options if you miss something. Maybe the problem is just in my house but with out tech society in general…..No, I can’t pass the blame because I know lots of kids with vivid imaginations that become immersed in made-up worlds.
Ever wish you could have a do-over with your kids? I don’t want to go back to sleepless nights and poopy diapers but I wish I could go back selectively and change a few things and see if the outcome is any different.
Wait, just remembered the amazing report cards I just got on both boys….perhaps changing one thing would make the rest fall apart and I should be grateful for the smart, engaging little people that they are. I wish there were report cards for 2-year-olds so I could feel good about Princess Snotty Pants too.