Most days I feel like I can’t give S enough attention. I suspect most parents of young children feel this way. All day long my attempts to balance caring for him with work or housework or cooking or whatever-else-must-be-done, I am interrupted by a near-constant chorus:
“Mama read again?” “Mama get the blocks!” “Mama sing ‘Wheels on the Bus’?”
One of the ladies over at Building Cathedrals recently raised the question of how busy parents fit in time to simply play with their children. The discussion made me realize the dilemma is only going to get stickier with age and the addition of more children.
But then “The Writer’s Almanac” brought this gem to my inbox: “The Party” by Reed Whittemore. The poet watches his young children playing outside in the sandbox and is suddenly inspired to join them:
I watched from my study,
Thought of my part in these contributions to world
Gaiety, and resolved
That the very least acknowledgment I could make
Would be to join them
So he leaves behind his work, steps outside, and enters into their world of make-believe.
I loved this simple reminder to slow down, sit down, and play with my little one. Perhaps the play of our children does rank among our most important contributions to the well-being of the world around us.
Time races on, and there’s always too much to do. But if my days can’t be filled with at least a few moments of shared play and focused attention on one little boy’s work of learning his world, something’s gone terribly wrong with my priorities.
My own gentle nudge to turn off the laptop and pull the boy into my lap instead…
“When we treat children’s play as seriously as it deserves, we are helping them feel the joy that’s to be found in the creative spirit. It’s the things we play with and the people who help us play that make a great difference in our lives.”
– Fred Rogers –