Every day, I spend a lot of time with Claire. But that doesn’t mean I play as much as she expects. Most of time, I take care of her: making her breakfast, lunch pack, snacks, dinner; giving her bath and reading books. When I am not busy with chores, I check my mails, read news and text my friends, letting her play with herself, or with her toys.
“Mom, play with me!” she asks constantly, “you will be Peppa’s friend Susie sheep, you visit my house….” I try to cooperate, but distracted and impatient. Beside, it’s tiring for a grownup to pretend some character of her age and indulge himself in a fictional world. 15 minutes later, I find myself leave her aside, pretending to go to the bathroom. Sometime, I keep my phone at hand and check it from time to time. Half an hour later, it’s always me who ask her to end the game, by suggesting to draw something or taking some snacks. Although watching TV is not encouraged in our family, I don’t feel guilty to let Claire run to her videos after playing “enough” with her. For me, it’s “enough” while for her, it’s a break before soliciting me again to play some other childish games.
Staying at home with Claire all day is exhausting. I certainly prefer to bring her to a public playground, where she can laugh with other kids. As other parents, I just stay by. I’m responsible to be with her, to take care of her and I always think that I’m doing well. I take her to the library to enjoy some special events, believing that all parents just sacrifice their own interest and bear the time passing by. Am I really enjoy the show as much as Claire? Rarely.”Did you have fun?” I ask her after the show or the special activity. I never question myself if I have enjoyed it too.
In the weekend, we take her to the park. When I am watching her climb the ladder or slide, her father is seeking shadow and checking his phone. We rotate our role to supervise our daughter. “Daddy, slide with me!” demands Claire.”No, it’s only for children!” That’s true, but in fact, do we really think seriously of being as crazy as these kids running and laughing without no limit ? We seldom enjoy the fun of swinging together, side by side. Yet, it’s not a written role that parents cannot swing.
If we take her to the library’s story time, we tend to let her seated on the ground with other kids, while we are 5 feet away on the public chairs. Anyway, we won’t check out how much she has understood, because we haven’t pay attention to the story ourselves, busy with other stuff.
One night, I was tucking Claire in. She suddenly asked me this question:
“Mom, what’s your favorite toy?”
“What do you think?” after hesitating a moment, I threw the question back.
“Your computer? ” she was not certain,”your phone?”
“Why?” Such suspects didn’t surprise me, but I wanted to know her opinion of me.
“Because you played joyfully with them.” she smiled, very confident in her reasoning.
“No! My sweetie, ma favorite toy is YOU!” I hugged her tightly.
“Really? ” in a timid voice, she didn’t refute me, “Thank you!”
Claire was fast asleep, while I remained pondering.
Did I lie? If she was really my favorite toy, why I wasn’t concentrated in playing with her? Why didn’t I enjoy the moments passed with her, the use of her language, the pleasure of being in an imaginary world, the curiosity to discover everything?
Dear Claire, sorry for letting you feel that playing with you is only my sacrifice. Let me share your joy, as your peer. Since you are my favorite toy, I will never be bored to play with you.