My boys are good at play, and if this is truly the work of children, then my children are very hard workers. Recently, I have noticed an intensity and increase to their play. Thankfully, they play fairly well together even though we do have the third-wheel-dynamic in our family. Both his father and I feel routinely sorry for him as he marches from the room of play into the room we’ve escaped to, “They are not letting me play with them,” his lower lip protrudes, “I want to play with them.” And it is true, the other two are extremely close and A does get excluded a lot.
Our oldest two play like twins: no one gives instructions, they both know their roles. They’ve created all sorts of memorable characters over the 6 and ½ years of their brotherhood, but my favorite will always be Skater Bug and Lotion. (Naked and Butt were a bit annoying.) Currently they have perfected a fairly jazzy dance routine called the “Dummy Dance.” I think it could outpace gangmen style if only this mommy would embrace You Tube.
Because I value play and imagination over all other character traits, my house is often in complete chaos. There was a time when I dreamed for my boys to reach the early elementary years, surely there wouldn’t be so many toys scattered throughout the kitchen, living room, and bedrooms. But this has never come to fruition. My couches hardly ever wear their cushions. Currently they are the frames for the woodland animal burrow that is in the TV room. But really I’d rather them be this than sit idly waiting for some grown-up to take the time to sit on them and have a mannerly conversation in our put-together surroundings. Plus, woodland creates are so very cute and cuddly, don’t you think?
This morning I was suspicious when I caught the boys sneaking all of my Tupperware into their woodland setting. But I just smiled and reassured them that it would be OK. When I entered their world I found they had sorted all their marbles, labeled the tubs with permanent markers, and were bringing a little sci-fi into their talking-animal-setting. Somehow these marbles were secret crystals that would enable mole, chipmunk, and rabbit to acquire essential powers.
There are breaks in their play. Someone gets hurt, someone gets frustrated, someone feels left out.….OK, so it is always A, the youngest. But even the oldest two need to come back to reality from time to time. This is when they write. Our piano room is covered in white computer paper and crayons where they compose their stories and create their character posters. They come to me and ask, “How do you spell endangered? Do you like my new creature? His name is Vyzzy; he’s so cute.”
My permissible parenting has certainly been a contributing factor to their active imaginations, but there is something else driving this latest uptick…something I hate to admit to be true. It is something I’ve ranted and raged against. Something I have rolled my eyes over…something I have fought. But like so many of my soapboxes: Costco, mini-vans, blogging…I give myself full permission to change my mind, come to a compromise. Curious? It is the Wii. I am so glad we put it off and made it special. I think a 2nd grade boy is the perfect age for it, and I am glad that when they “finally” got theirs it really was a Christmas present to remember, but it hasn’t been the worst-decision-of-our-lives. In fact, it has mostly been a good thing.
It motivates them to clean their rooms, put away their laundry, help me take out the garbage, finish their homework….it always gives me space and time to write, read, and take a nap. It has allowed Hans and I to sleep in! And we like playing with them. I’m still sticking by my belief in moderation, but I need to admit that there appears to be a direct correlation in their increased desire to conduct imaginary play and all those Skylander levels they’ve conquered. Did I really just say that? Yes, yes I did.