Thursday, July 1, 2010

Play, and Be Present

Tomorrow we leave for a 10 day multi-state road trip, and today has been spent sorting, packing, and running around.

Tucking Miss C in at bedtime, she takes my face in both her hands and studies me.

"Tomorrow, though," she says deliberately, "will you play with me?"
She asked that question about a dozen times today, but play gave way to errands and telephone calls and the last-minute details.

There are days Miss C is content to occupy her own world entirely unaccompanied, even prefers it.  And there are days when she wakes up and wants to have a playmate all day long.  Today was the latter, when the to-do list felt a mile long.

"Tomorrow," I tell her, "I will play with you."

"Really play."

"Yes tomorrow, I will really play."

I close her door and think of a bumper sticker I saw that read,
Children need presence, not presents.  
And I know what she's asking is for me to be more present and less preoccupied.
To sit with her, not all day, but to be with her wholly when I am with her.

Sometimes I forget that to give 15 minutes of time to her and her play is the equivalent of sitting with a good friend and asking, "So how are you?  How are you really?"  And then listening.

But today I said "yes" and then proceeded to answer the phone, jump up each time I thought of something, like an kid with ADHD.  Like asking, "How are you?" and then proceeding to check my Blackberry.

So tomorrow, before we finish jamming the car with all the necessary items, I'll have to remember that a few minutes entirely attentive to the smallest detail is never time wasted. 


  1. just so you know, i haven't met a mother that plays with her child as well as you do. this is something i need to work on. it can get so mind numbingly boring, but i need to remember that playing train, or ticket conductor with him is ever so important. i am always reminded of this when we spend time with you and C. thanks for that.

  2. Allison-I agree. I am so often mind-numbingly bored with playing with my kids. Isabella's play is at least somewhat entertaining. The twins, at 20-months-old, "play" by making gigantic messes, which I then have to clear up several dozen times a day. I check email, read blogs, make phone calls, waste time on Facebook, and even attempt to work, all while my kids are awake. I'm beyond feeling guilty for this, because I think it's unrealistic to try and be your child(ren)'s playmate 24/7, but this post has reminded me that I don't have to spend all day entertaining my kids. Sometimes, 15 minutes is enough. Thanks, Mary.

  3. Thank you for this one. It made me cry.