On Monday I had a friend and her daughter over for a play date for the girls. We were swapping kid stories and she mentioned the intricate tea parties and said, “Well, I’m sure you are familiar with all of that.”
Not so much.
Yes, my daughter has tea set. It’s in her play kitchen in her room. And yes, occasionally she brings it to me to ‘drink’. But long and involved tea parties where a full-sized adult crouches at a miniature table and balances precariously on a pint-sized chair?
Not so much.
“When I was a kid, I was rather lonely. No siblings, not even a lot of playmates on my street, I spent a lot of time alone.” I told my friend. “I used to tell myself that when I had a child, I would play with her all day long.” I shrugged, “But then I grew up and had Dee and I just didn’t have any idea how to play with Barbies or at ‘let’s pretend’ any more. So I told myself that I would do what I could and not worry about being my child’s playmate.”
I even quoted Annie Dillard’s essay, “Handed My Own Life” in which Annie writes, “I did not understand then, but soon came to realize that you do what you do out of your private passion for the thing itself.” My time for Fisher Price Little People or Spirograph or Barbies has faded into sweet memories. I have no real interest in playing with them any longer.
That was on Monday.
On Wednesday Emily was with me in a client’s house and she saw some Play-Doh in the little boy’s room. The only way I could get her out of there without opening the Play-Doh was to promise her some of her own. And so, that evening we drove to Wal-Mart to find some for my little princess. Play-Doh hasn’t changed a lot in 35 years. A few more new colors and other than that, it’s pretty much the same. We picked out a set of four big canisters and a “Sea Creatures” play set.
And somewhere between unwrapping the packaging and tossing the plastic and cardboard into the trash I found myself on the floor, absorbed in making the octopus’ tentacles grow and cutting out the perfect fish. Eventually my feet fell asleep and my back ached. We had a great time playing with the Play-Doh.
I’m not changing my position. I’m a mom and business owner and domestic goddess first…childhood playmate falls pretty far down on the list. But this one time I couldn’t resist. The next day saw me down on the floor again when the vintage Fisher Price Little People Circus I bought on eBay came in the mail.
For a few moments, it was 1976 all over again.
How about you? Do you play with your kids? Games? Cards? Pretend play like tea parties or sword fights?