I am not playing with you!

Actually, I am only partially kidding. I will of course play with you if you are courteous and play fair [at least most of the time]. What I mean is … when did it become appropriate/acceptable/required/expected for parents or caregivers to engage children at all the times of their play? Why they do that? Why is it necessary?

Everyone engages children differently. We all have our styles and sometimes the style is to just really, really engage and play. I notice a change in Sophia when she has spent a few hours or more  actively engaged and playing with others (older children or adults). She is irritable, converses less, does not easily engage in creative play on her own, and just follows along until “the point of no return” — an outburst followed by tears signifying she’s tired and ready for sleep.

My husband and I have made a conscious effort to engender creativity through encouragement of self play. What do I mean by that? We simply let her lead, often engaging her and then stepping back and just observing. Our otherwise uninterrupted presence signifies to Sophia that we are available and willing to play but really, she’s in charge. I am of course realistic and understand that it is not possible to expect her to play on her own for hours. I do think that 15 minutes of uninterrupted play is a worthwhile goal given her age and we’re working toward that.

She’s big into cooking and feeding her stuffed animals and dolls lately. It does appear that everyone wants cake a lot more than soup or chicken nuggets in her play kitchen :-). Of course we take what we learn in the play kitchen and use it in Mama’s kitchen. Here she is, with her constant companion Froggy, helping make her dinner (zucchini pancakes with scallion).

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