playing with super-face tigers

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Though I've had eight years of practice, I am still learning how to play with my kids.  Actually, that is not entirely true, since Girl Child has not required too much in terms of me sitting on the floor to play with her. If she has me, she'll most likely have me read to her.

Boy Child, on the other hand, has a constant refrain he says a thousand times a day: 'Can you play with me?' 

'Can you play with me?'  

'Can you play with me?'  

No, no I can't. Not very well anyway.

I am an adult.  Mostly. I have a difficult time engaging in play with dolls and toys.  I think to play well, all participants have to be on the same level in terms of power.  Clearly there is an imbalance when it comes to a parent and child.  Play with intermediaries like toys could be a great way to address that structural disproportion and allow the child some way to one up a parent and feel some control (wrestling is one type of play of doing this and probably our favorite).  But mainly it's a great way to make mama the bad guy and kill her over and over again.

Not so much 'play' for me. 

Still, though it may be difficult for both of us, Boy Child's main creative outlet is what he does with his dinosaurs and super-face tigers (saber tooth tigers), and cars and I like to get in on that.  It's still magic.  Difficult magic, but Boy Child is nothing if not challenging.  So I try. 

I keep hoping some sort of master book with complete instructions on how to return to childhood AND get along with four year old boys will appear at my library.  As I recall, even when I was younger and better at playing, it was still extremely difficult to play with someone who only wants to blow you up.  Maybe some day I'll figure it out and write that book. 


  1. I also have a hard time playing with the kids. Especially with my almost 6 year old son. I just don't get the way he plays or the way he thinks. My husband is great with it however and plays with them when he has time.
    It is getting easier though now that he is starting to learn some board games, etc. Those I can do.

  2. I am with you - play is difficult. I only have girls & I was raised with only sisters, so I imagine playing with a boy child would be extremely challenging for me. After I was introduced to this group, Hand In Hand Parenting, play got easier for me, b/c it then had an "adult purpose" behind it. Maybe it will help you? (I mention it b/c your comment on wrestling is right up HiH's alley! :) Just went looking on the website & couldn't find an article that spoke specifically on play, but here's the article page, where many of the topics will reference Play Listening: http://www.handinhandparenting.org/articles ) Also the book Playful Parenting by Lawrence J. Cohen, Ph.D. might help too! Oh & a favorite game around here: Sock Wars! Take that basket of lost socks, put it in the center of the room. Kids on one side, parent on the other. You run up to the basket, roll up a sock & huck it! Using the couch as a barrier works too! :) Mom obviously misses much more often than the kiddos. Have fun!