One of my MANY weak areas in parenting is playing with my kids. Like, get down on the floor, hardcore, serious playing.

Apparently, I got my fill of Barbie dolls in my own youth, enough so that the idea of playing them with a 5 year old literally makes me want to lock myself in the bathroom until she either loses all of the shoes or cuts its hair into a style so ugly she cannot possibly play with it anymore. But I’m working on it. One naked Barbie at a time.

Every night after supper, I am lucky enough to be able to just walk out of the kitchen after I clear the table. I have a wonderfully obsessive dishwasher husband. Back off, ladies….he’s all mine.

For the last few months, I have been making an earnest effort to play with the kids after supper every weeknight. We don’t run errands on weeknights, we don’t do very much housework, and though the TV is always on, we aren’t paying it too much attention. It only took me, like, 5 years to realize that a rigid structure for the kids is an obedience goldmine. Now I only have to yell 30 or 40 times a night instead of the usual 1000.

Tonight, the kids got a whole 8.6 minutes of entertainment watching me blow bubbles with my gum. “Again, again!” The smile on Maris’ face, the look of anticipation, the giggling. She thought it was really swell.

I could have gone on for hours, but I needed a new piece of gum. Which means, of course, that Hillary and Maris both needed a piece of gum. Then I got to laugh while watching Hillary try to figure out bubble blowing. Mostly, she just found a way to spit all over me without me yelling at her.

We also read some books. I love to read to the kids. Where I fail at Barbies, I make up for it tenfold in reading.

Quick side story….before Bryce was born, I used to take Hillary to the library regularly. She would pick out every single character book she could find. Dora, Caillou, Babar, etc. I’d try to suggest some actual literature, but she would usually tell me no. Okay, fine.

She goes to the school library with her class one day every week. She brings home the most bizarre selections. I would almost say she’s got a blindfold over her eyes when she chooses them. This week she brought home a lovely, appropriate book about a circus dog and then a lengthy book about deer. Everything you could possibly want to know about deer. And I had to give an impromptu lesson on deer breastfeeding. It was awesome. The pinnacle of my evening.

After we were done with bubbles and books, I got them settled for bed then rocked Bryce to sleep, and I sat there thinking that, sometimes, these kids just want some face time. They want mom to look them in the eye and talk to them about stuff they care about, not rules or warnings or lectures on the importance of respect. (And believe me, I could teach a college course on respect with all the material I’ve had to use with these kids.) They want that one on one attention they’ve been waiting all day to get from me. And for once, I was able to do it up right for them.


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