Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Honeymoon's Over

Today was a day I've been waiting for. I've saved up all those little pieces of paper that say, "I love Mama," and "Mama is the best mama in the world," for this day. This is the day that A. realized I was a complete fraud.

"You're a bad parent!" he yells. "You won't let me get ice cream, you won't buy me electronics, you never play with us! And Dad always makes us eat healthy food before we get ice cream and he never takes us anywhere fun!"  Somewhere in this diatribe was the information that Dad told him that the reason I take long naps is because I really need my beauty sleep. Talk about adding insult to injury.

"You buy Ben more things than me! You never buy me toys! You make my life miserable!" This was in the grocery checkout lane

"Yeah, that's my job," I answer.

"Well, you're doing a good job of it!"

Later, after reading to him, I reminded him that sometimes we get mad at each other, but we don't hate each other. He assured me that he liked me sometimes, but he didn't love me anymore.

I have no problem with him being mad that we don't buy him things. I'm OK that he doesn't like us pushing healthy food on him. That's our job.

What cuts to the quick is the claim, "You don't play with us!" because he's right. I don't play with them. I hate playing with them. I'll play a board or card game now and then, and I'll listen for hours to their stories, their ideas and their inventions. I'll take them all over the place - the water park, the science museum, the tide pools. But if they build a fort, I don't climb in except under duress. I'll ask them about it while I'm folding laundry, I'll admire the construction in between the dishes, but I don't want to take the time to just sit and pretend. Sometimes I'll do Legos. But most of the time their play is something to keep them busy while I get other things done. He's right.

Today I took them to the playground, and realized when I got there that I'd forgotten my iPhone. Crap. The one time I get some time to read the headlines, and I forgot it. So I followed them around the playground. I didn't have any fabulous insights. I didn't realize this was so much more awesome than sitting on the bench reading my news feeds. But, I did relax a little bit. I pushed Benjamin on the swing, and I decided I needed to slow down, and pay more attention to how they wanted to spend time with me, not how I wanted to spend time with them.


~**Dawn**~ said...

I will say this much: My dad was a single parent & his parents helped out quite a bit in our upbringing. All there of them were very involved in our lives. We went on errands with my Gramp, cooked in the kitchen with Gram and my Dad was verbally involved (much as you described) with our daily chattering & sharing. Only on rare occasion did any of these wonderful people really *play* with us--maybe play catch in the backyard or board game every so often. They were present, but play was for children. We learned independence this way & to entertain ourselves. I don't need anyone to help amuse me now. I am fine going to a movie by myself if no one else is interested. I wander over to Disney World to experiment with my camera or even to enjoy some of the attractions just as happily alone as in a group. Play was the "job" of children & it was through play that we gained skills, made sense of the world & "trained" to be adults one day. It was their job to guide & supervise, offer input, listen & encourage, but playing along with us was a special treat. My brother & I both grew up into strong fine adults with wonderful memories of the people who raised us well. =)

JenK said...

^^^ What she said.

I don't play with my kids either. And when I do, I'm always wondering when I've played long enough. I don't think that makes a bad parent. It just clearly defines the difference between a parent and a child. We aren't expected to act the same, why should we be interested in the same games?

I still feel guilty about it though. Meh. Parental guilt is a lifelong malady. I might as well get used to it.

Lunasea said...

Thanks, Dawn, that's a good point.

Jen, I don't think it makes a bad parent, either, but it stings when they complain about it.

Melany said...

sjoe, that's a hard hit.
However, not many parents play with their kids. Heck most don't even listen to them when they talk.
Regardless if you actively play with them or not, it's not okay for him to say he hates you. (in my very humble opinion)
You do a lot with them from the sounds of it.
Playing with them can be loads of fun though ;) and sometimes just 15 minutes is enough for them.

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