Okay, the craziest thing happened Monday. A couple of Zip’s friends
from down the street came over after breakfast (school was off for Columbus Day) and while the kids were playing…I got things done. I cleaned the kitchen floor. I wiped down the
bathroom counters and (ick) cleaned the toilets. I renewed library books
on-line. I drank hot coffee. It was AMAZING! Did I mention the kids were
playing in my house while I did all
that point every momma and poppa dreams about – the point where kids come over and actually
play, and you, as the responsible adult, just have to make sure no one pokes an
eye out or decides jumping off the roof would be a good idea, which you’re pretty sure the kids are old enough to
know isn’t safe anyway.
I’ve wondered when this point would come. When Zip would beg
for his best friend to come over and 20 minutes later they were fighting over a
toy, or Zip was crying because A wanted to swing but Zip wanted to play
superheroes, and then five minutes later A was crying because Zip wanted to swing and A wanted to play superheroes, and then
finally they were both happy but I realized it was because they had mutually agreed that
pulling every.single.towel out of the linen closet was a fun idea, I wondered: Are play dates supposed to be this much
WORK?! When do the kids just play?! When a friend brought her little one to
our house to play and it took an hour to squeeze in five minutes worth of adult
conversation, because the kids never wanted to play in the same room, I
wondered: When does this change?
If you have little ones you might be wondering the very same
thing: When do kids have play dates where they actually play, without needing constant supervision and
parent intervention every 30 seconds? In
our house, it finally happened sometime in the past few months. At almost-6, Zip:
- Has developed the social skills needed to negotiate
play with other kids on his own and, thanks to preschool, has plenty of
practice playing with other kids. (Although it seems that playing with friends at preschool – where there are a familiar rhythm and structure, plenty of potential playmates to choose from, and communal toys – is not quite the same as playing with a single friend in our home.)
- Has the
cognitive skills to come up with and follow plans with his friends, as well as the attention span to stick with an activity for quite a while.
- Is now more interested in playing with his friends than with me. Momma is just back-up these days.
I’m sure that for some kids peaceful play dates come earlier than 5 or 6,but either way it does happen eventually. It is just a matter of time and development. With all of these pieces coming together, play dates have reached a new level. And as an added bonus, although Bee is still only 2 he just follows what the big kids do, so
he is occupied too. I’m sure when he has a friend of his own over, I’ll be back to constantly supervising.
figuring out what they could build from an old remote control car that I let them
dissect, while Bee headed upstairs to play house with the friend’s 7-year-old sister. They all played so nicely, so quietly. And no
one poked their eye out or jumped off the roof.
leaving Bee to help me finish cleaning. I handed him a damp paper towel and
asked him to help me clean the tubs. Once I let him take his pants off, he was thrilled to oblige. Because everything is fun if you’re naked, right? I wonder when that changes!