Wednesday, April 23, 2008

speaking about guilt...

Okay, now my guilt for not wanting to play has gone public. Check out my comments in this month's Parenting Magazine article about Mommy Guilt.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

learning to play

A couple of months ago I got a flyer in the mail about a class a supposedly well-known psychologist was teaching about learning to play with your children. I almost threw it away with the junkmail, but then stopped to read further about how because play is so important for a child's growth and development, that as a parent, it is also your responsibility to learn to nurture this activity and play with your child. And, that being a "good player" and letting your child lead helps them develop confidence and leadership skills.


I believe I'd do pretty much everything to make sure my kids are well nurtured, cared for, loved, and educated. They play sports, love art, music, and they're learning a second language. I work outside the home, I work inside the home, I make lunches (okay, that doesn't always work out perfectly), read them stories and books while cuddling, and I tuck them lovingly into bed 6 out of 7 nights a week.

And now I'm supposed to feel guilty because I don't play with them? Or rather, I don't play with them correctly?

I do play with them sometimes. I love playing outside and running around the jungle gym pretending with them that the grass is hot lava. I love hide and seek (for at least a bit), and I love wrestling on the rug with them in tussles that usually end with a lot of tickling. I don't mind dressing up baby dolls sometimes and I get a kick out of Samuel's storylines when he's pestered into playing Barbies with Talia and ends up having his stuffed animals and action figures force Barbie and her gal pals out of their Dream House and onto the playroom street. There are games I love to play with them. So why should I have to learn to play the ones I don't?

The pamphlet said learning to let the child lead and even be bossy is a good thing, and that the parent should go along with them. Or when playing a game that involves winning and losing, you should wean your child gently into losing by letting them win fewer and fewer games. What about learning consequences? What about learning that if you can't play by the rules, your friends won't want to play with you, nevermind your mom and dad? What about learning that everyone likes to win sometimes?

And the literature repeated a couple of times that when your child is grown, s/he won't be remembering how clean the kitchen was--that playing with your child is much more worthwhile. I'll buy that. And I practice that for the most part and don't really work or do many chores while the kids are up. But even that seems questionable. Isn't it okay for your kid to know that chores aren't always fun and that the sparkly dishes fairy doesn't come in the middle of the night to do them? And, to be perfectly honest, tonight, after getting Naomi to bed and Tali was at her t-ball game, Samuel wanted me to play this story game he'd created with his K'nex and all I really wanted to do after a long day was process the day and do the dishes... very... quietly... without... talking.

"Please, Mommy. We're never alone," he says to me. Okay, I'm a sucker. So I sit down to play with these figures he's made and I can't for the life of me figure out how they're supposed to look like people and robots, but I do admire his creativity. The storyline is that this one robot has gone from good to evil and his suckers will suck up anything, even little K'nex boys. We scream and make the little figures run and it is fun. For exactly 1.75 minutes. And then I'm done. I can't think about what to make my guy say and all I want to do is the dishes. Or anything else.

"Maybe we can play something like Scrabble?" I suggest. Samuel is an incredible Scrabble player for a seven year old.

"Mommmmmmyyy... Just play this," he says. He wants me there. So play or not, I hang out with him for a while longer.

The thing is, I know he knows I don't want to play the game, but that I want to be with him. And I can tell he's okay with that, which makes me feel proud of him. We stay like that until Boaz and Tali get home from the game and the house is loud again. But for awhile, we sit silently, Samuel moving his figures along to a story in his head and then sometimes just looking up and smiling while I just sit with him. And we're both getting something we need.

Monday, April 07, 2008

naomi at 22 months...

Here's a photo Boaz took of Naomi last weekend at 22 months. Too bad she's got veggie booty residue all over her yummy cheeks, but that girl loves her some veggie booty. La.

Oops, I did it again...

I couldn't resist the silly Britney pun, but damn, I did it again last night! Another lunch, another pot. I need to invest in some new cookware and a timer with the volume of a bullhorn.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

why i hate making lunches...

There are, of course, worse experiences to experience, but that said, making lunches has got to be the most painful, expensive, and loathsome task. I wish I could love setting out their lunchboxes and lovingly installing in them wholesome and delicious snacks and lunches that they would then devour during snack and lunchtime, and that afterwards, they'd feel refreshed and energized and ready to learn (or ready to learn to share, sing new songs, sit in circle, and play nicely with their friends). Also, they would use the napkin I'd carefully folded and included with their lunch and not the hem of their shirt, dress, or sleeve.

This is pure fantasy.

First there are a lot of restrictions. All three schools (yes, three schools and I don't want to talk about it) are kosher and lunches need to be dairy. Also, no peanuts because of nut allergies. So already, we're little stuck. Plus, Samuel doesn't like cheese or dairy or tofu. Or bread. Just meat and peanut butter.

Usually, I get to daycare and Naomi's teacher will say something to me like, "Hmm, so strange... Naomi ate absolutely nothing today except for a few bites of yogurt. And she seemed to totally hate her sandwich." (Nevermind that during the weekend she gobbled down two of the exact same sandwich, but I digress...)

Tali will politely say, "You know, I just didn't have time to eat everything." Which is sweet, and I can take pride in the fact that the girl has some good manners developing, But she managed to have time to eat her chocolate chip cookie (baked with bran and flax seed, mind you. I'm not sending complete crap in their lunches). Just not the avocado and cheese sandwich that she loves at home.

And I've tried thermos bowls of soup or noodles or rice and veggies... I've tried veggie sushi, burritos, bagels, everything. But when you get all that hard work returned to you at the end of the day untouched, except that it's now sort of smelly and squished, it's just degrading. Maybe that's too strong of a word for it, but it's just not nice.

Samuel is my one lunchbox success story. I've found out that the one way to get protein into Samuel for lunches is to give him eggs. The kid has never met an egg he didn't want to eat (and this has actually been an issue when we had to discuss why hardboiled eggs should never be stored for "just in case" in your backpack). The kid has a good appetite and if I give him two eggs, or an egg salad sandwich, he's really set. However, that means that I have to make the egg salad or hard boil the eggs, which isn't all that difficult, but at the end of a seemingly endless day, sometimes this happens:

These are eggs that have been hardboiled for two hours while I got distracted by watching "You Suck at Photoshop" videos on YouTube with Boaz and then folding laundry and then answering some email and then working on a deck I needed to do for work. Note the fact that all of the water has been boiled down. Note the fact that the pot has burned profusely and is pretty much ruined. Note the fact that I used the last four eggs from the carton.

Samuel had a cheese sandwich for lunch today. I can't wait to see it again tonight.