If you're a parent of young children like me, you've heard the words, "I'm bored," at least 45 times in a single week. Many times, this comes at the best possible timing (sarcastically speaking there), while we are on a Zoom meeting with work, trying to follow a recipe step-by-step, or about to sit down to write a blog, after over a month of not writing (me right now lol). For me, it was almost an autopilot response to say, "one sec honey," or "I can't right now." The droopy eyes and frown I would get was enough for me to start judging my parenting, going off the rails of what a horrible mother I was being, or a sense of dubious filled emotions regarding my choice of words for my child in that moment.
One day, I decided it didn't matter at what moment in time my youngest would ask, I was committed to respond with something along the lines of, "oooh okay!"And let me tell you, it was a grand experience. Here was this ebullient little human jumping with joy and making squeaky noises from her excitement that Mommy had said yes! Now if you're familiar with the "trending" play videos on social media, young children love recording their toys and making videos for content of how they play. So, there I found myself, on the carpet, like a child, holding Barbie's, making them move around and using an acting voice for these characters. I was to follow all directions and instructions from my child on how to play, what to have the dolls do and say, and after a few minutes we were done.
"That's it?" I thought. Wow. A few minutes and I was fired from the job. All my child wanted was a few minutes to act out something she had directed and created in her young developing brain, and who else to share it with better than Mom! This had me reflect on all the other times I had responded too quickly with "no, not right now, I can't," or whatever other phrase knocked her dreams down in that moment. It really was okay to be accessible from time to time for my child's creativity. The joy on her face upon my acceptance to play was ineffable and instead of continuing to be indolent for lack of a better word, taking time for her was and is important in those and in future moments.
I know sometimes we think we have all the time in the world, but the saying is true. One day, we will look around and no one will be there asking us to play. Work, house chores, everything else may still be there. Now of course, there are moments where work needs us, and it is our responsibility to upkeep that to provide for our families. However, in the moments where it can wait, make it wait. So next time we are asked by these small humans, to play or explore with them, I invite you (and continuously invite myself) to ruminate on what they are truly inviting you to do. It isn't just to "play," it is inviting you to explore a child-like wonder of their own little world. I am a staunch supporter of my child(ren)'s imaginations and ideas and not a single time have I felt it to be a waste of my time. Speaking of which, I have a little one who is expecting me in about 10 minutes to explore! Time to press play.