Playtime is Over!
January 10, 2020 9:54 AM   Subscribe

 
This was a very well-resourced comprehensive article! I think one aspect the author leaves out is the weird status that "pretend play" has achieved as supposedly crucial to child development. I'm not sure how this happened, but you hear it over and over again. Despite the fact that there is not great evidence that pretend play contributes anything in particular to child development. Yet, parents and "parenting experts" love to talk about "integrating pretend play into the classroom" and so forth. On the flip side, lack of pretend play is one red flag for autism, which ignores the fact that a lot autistic kids later go on to have incredibly vivid powers of imagination, and describe stimming activities as a kind of play. At the end of the day, I think the fixation on "pretend play" is really just about a certain way adults believe childhood should look, not about what actual kids do ... which is much more varied and weirder than any parenting manual can account for.
posted by schwinggg! at 10:24 AM on January 10 [17 favorites]


It's exhausting. Ours gets a max of 15 minutes per day of make-believe from us, and she's on her own for the rest of it. If she can rope any other children or adults into it, more power to her.
posted by Belostomatidae at 10:31 AM on January 10 [5 favorites]


In some ways having multiples is harder than having singletons... but this is one area where it is really freeing. My kids play pretend with each other very independently. My role is generally to break up fights and put back together Playmobil trucks that have come apart - but none of them have any real desire for me or my husband to be part of the play.
posted by antimony at 10:34 AM on January 10 [15 favorites]


Playing with my preschooler is occasionally fun, but often frustrating as he is a micro-manager in the making who feeds me a script line by line ("Now you say "Ouch, that hurt!" NO, sound SAD! Now fall down. NO!! Fall down like THIS, Mom! Now you say "help, help!" and now you have TEARS, Mom. And now I will save you and you say "thank you!") and God help me if I try to get creative and improvise.

Fortunately I majored in theater, and I usually get through it by imagining he is a Kubrick-esque director trying to get a great performance out of me. But yeah, the idyllic image of "free-form play with your children is delightful! watch as they construct ENTIRE WORLDS out of thin air! you're astronauts soaring through space!" has not been true for me yet as my kid mostly wants to reenact very specific scenes on endless repeat, like "riding an elevator."
posted by castlebravo at 10:36 AM on January 10 [76 favorites]


I don't remember my parents ever pretend-playing with us (1960s-70s). We played pretend with playmates or alone. Sometimes we'd go show the parents a bit of play we were particularly proud of, who would then admire us for a moment or two before telling us to go back to our rooms or outside or wherever we'd come from.

It's not like they never did anything fun with us. My mother would sing, if asked, or tell stories. She read us a lot of books. Sometimes we could get her to play a board game or cards (and I'm sure teaching me to play Solitare was solely for MY benefit.) Dad would play basketball with us, or take us bowling, or sledding in the winter. These activities were not constant, though. My brother and I, when not engaged with playmates, entertained ourselves a lot. We occasionally played together. We watched some TV, read books, played with toys, got into stuff we weren't supposed to. Regular kid stuff, back in the day. Grandma taught me stuff like crafts and crochet, while Grandpa would take me on nature walks and point out cool stuff like snakeskin sheds. Neither of them played pretend with us, and I don't recall ever playing pretend with my kid either.

One friend of my parents was playful with a sort of offbeat sense of fun, and was always suggesting cool shit for us and her kids to do when we got together. She let us build a tent in her front yard and actually sleep out in it, and she showed us how to become blood brothers (or sisters, I guess) by poking our fingers with a needle and rubbing the blood drops together. But even she didn't get in the middle of our play, she just sort of gave us some ideas and props and let us run with it.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 10:54 AM on January 10 [19 favorites]


Our 3 year old is in full pretend play mode at the moment and she does like to drag in her parents. This can be fun, but she also likes to run the same scenarios multiple times, which can be awfully irritating.
posted by sfred at 10:58 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


I sure wish I could have read this article when my first was born 9 years ago. With her being an only child I felt so guilty...I felt like I had to play with her all the time. Have I ruined her? She hates doing anything alone. And she doesn't want to do anything but watch youtube.

On the other hand, would it have made any difference? I now watch my 1.5 year and she's just a natural for keeping herself occupied and was that way from day one. I laid her on that blanket and without fussing she'd try to grab the rings hanging over her head for almost an hour. Now she toddles around the living room playing with this and that, putting things in our hands or getting us to pretend-eat something now and then, and toddles away again.

My eldest, the one I'm so worried about - she never, ever did such things. She just sat there. And when it came to pretend play, she wanted me to play BOTH characters with the playmobil figures or barbies or whatever. I should have let her just sit there? Maybe I totally blew it.

I love this article but it's still so frustrating, all the trends and changing theories on how we should raise our kids. With my second I am trying to ignore most of it.
posted by kitcat at 11:07 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


Our little one is now 5 and has always been awful about entertaining herself. And she's the queen of hissyfits and will happily just scream when no one will do anything with her. It's so frustrating.

And I just can't get into the pretend play either. It's just so repetitive (and she is such a micromanager).
posted by mkuhnell at 11:36 AM on January 10


I love this article but it's still so frustrating, all the trends and changing theories on how we should raise our kids. With my second I am trying to ignore most of it.

It's hard to just take a bunch of disparate theories from about 100 years worth of child raising and then form absolutes around it because social changes that aren't remarked upon within the narrow context of child rearing have huge effects, like for example, population density, number of children around, number of siblings, permissiveness of society on roaming children, generalized feelings about their parents vs other age and income cohorts, and so many others you could list on a blackboard for an hour. Without all that, I'd surmise that the advice is nearly worthless.

But again, an expert can say this:
"Play With Your Children, he pushed back against those advising playfulness for the sake of “making your kids smarter”: “We favor occasional parent play mainly for the way it increases the competence and vividness of family or peer play relationships rather than for any fairly marginal academic outcomes." "

Every bit of that quote is completely unsubstantiated. Measuring 'smartness', measuring disparate outcomes of 'smart' at various ages. The amount of time expended playing with the kid is completely unmeasured. The devaluing of marginal improvements to the 'competence and vividness of family play relationships', which is completely at odds with "don't play with your kid if it isn't fun and your kid will see you as the dour facist you actually seem to be to them", which I'm humorously paraphrasing but is the legit advice given later. Seriously, is "don't do it if you can't do it happily" legit advice for anything in 2020?


So in my opinion, all of this is simply other people's opinions about child rearing, which are valid, but they are just that -opinions not science, and if they don't match yours, then you are right to ignore them.
posted by The_Vegetables at 11:44 AM on January 10 [5 favorites]


It's hard for me to read this article without thinking about the ones from last summer, reporting the decline of imaginary friends.
posted by gnomeloaf at 11:52 AM on January 10


It's hard for me to read this article without thinking about the ones from last summer, reporting the decline of imaginary friends.

It serves them right, after what they did to me
posted by aubilenon at 11:58 AM on January 10 [20 favorites]


I really appreciated this read; thanks for posting it.

Her description of RIE reminded me of a comment I read on someone's else ask on askmetafilter awhile ago. The asker was frustrated with being asked to play with their child. The advice that stuck with me (that I used this morning, in fact) was to play for 20 minutes and then move on. Perhaps it's because of my adult need for structure, but knowing there's a time limit helps me.

I send my daughter to a RIE-based school, so it was interesting for me to see RIE pop up here. When she was describing the "frosty" parenting technique of putting your kid out back and looking at them through a peephole, I thought "that kind of sounds like RIE...and it's not as cold as it seems..."

I do think she leaves out a cornerstone of the RIE philosophy: being comfortable with and accepting negative reactions/emotions from your child. If I have a boundary (I don't want to play right now/I need to finish this before I play/whatever) and tell my daughter I can't play, it may REALLY upset her. RIE basically says, acknowledge the emotions by describing what you see and naming the possible feeling and help your child get back to calm (through breathing techniques for example).

Sometimes I think we are looking for a "parenting win" that means we get to put down our boundaries with our kids AND they just automatically and calmly accept them. I don't think that's realistic.

Personally, I find the whole thing really really hard. In a scenario where I'm trying to do the dishes and my daughter comes to me to play (and I don't want to), it can be a real lose-lose situation for me. Either I have to stop and play (to keep the peace) or I say no and have to stop to be there with her to help her process those emotions. Either way, the dishes aren't getting done...(or at least not right that second).
posted by CMcG at 12:11 PM on January 10 [5 favorites]


And it's not like I want to read a novel (though I do!) or watch youtube (though I want to do that too!). I just want to do the darn dishes all the way through. :)
posted by CMcG at 12:12 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


I did a lot of - acknowledge the emotion, name it, help process it - with my first. I wonder if (and I'm kinda experimenting with it mostly because I cannot go through years of this again) it's just fine to acknowledge the emotion, name it, GIVE A PECK ON THE CHEEK and IGNORE THE ENSUING WAILING, and finish doing the dishes.
posted by kitcat at 12:17 PM on January 10 [6 favorites]


You see the trend of "parent is the child's best playmate" in commercials - like the one where the mom has some form of depression but powers through to play "Princess and Pirate" with her daughter (who appears to be 7 years old - does she not have friends from school).

Send the kid outside, make them find the other neighborhood kids! Hell, toss them in the back and tell them to dig for worms or look at ants!

I don't think parents should be a child's primary play-pal.
posted by jazon at 12:42 PM on January 10 [5 favorites]


Nobody ever warns you how much feigned enthusiasm parenting requires
posted by gottabefunky at 12:47 PM on January 10 [22 favorites]


My parents didn't "play" with me, though my dad liked to joke and toss us around sometimes (we didn't always like it). I had cousins and siblings for playtime. I didn't play with my kid, an only child, though I did sing a lot of songs with them, read to them, talk to them, and take them for long walks, all habits that turned into lifelong interests for them. And as a teacher, I witnessed all too often how utterly exhausting it was for the parents of my students to feel that they were "always on" for their kids, and how dependent their kids became on their full attention.

I like kids. I find them entertaining and interesting, and I love making a baby smile or getting a kid to be interested in something or learn how to do something. But it's not my idea of "play" to do what a toddler thinks is play.

I'm going to pass the article along to my kid, who is expecting a baby in a couple of months.
posted by Peach at 1:00 PM on January 10 [5 favorites]


As someone prone to these sorts of anxieties as well, I think the article does overlook important variations: in the kid's personality, in your personality, and most importantly, as Joyful Toddlers mentioned in the article puts it, "whether you are at home with children ages 1-5 or work long hours". The best strategy seems to depend so much on the particulars: our children love pretend play, we love it and believe in it deeply, and we both work full-time jobs and basically have a single hour of relax/play family time a day during the weekday that's not devoted to morning, dinner, or bedtime routines. What's done with that hour in the evening when we're often all exhausted is sometimes fraught, but whatever the right thing is, it's surely very dependent on who we all are and the current circumstances of the day, and differs quite a lot from what the best strategies are on the weekends or how it would be different if one of us could stay home, or when the kids were a year or two younger, or who they will be in a year or two, etc, etc. It's hard to figure out any usably general advice in all of this apart from try to do what's fun for everyone, and don't worry too much since none of it affects how they turn out very much at all.

I don't blame the writer for the title, but the worst thing about this is the title. No, there's not "a better way," though as with all things there may be myriad better ways depending on who you are, who they are, what the circumstances are, etc, etc. I suppose I should be more generous though, and just file this in pile B of the two piles that all writing on child-rearing seems to fall into: "Do X" and "It's okay if you don't do X."
posted by chortly at 1:07 PM on January 10 [4 favorites]


I just have the one kid. That kid has two. As an only child, my parents did not play with me that often. My two grandkids do not appear to need their parents to play with them much, they play with each other for ages. By which I mean the nearly 5-year-old can spend ages bossing around the nearly 3-year-old, who mostly takes it but sometimes balks. "I am not the Hulk!" she declared several times during a recent visit. Her older sibling was Spiderman and he ignored her desire to be a princess. I think they compromised by making her some kind of wolf critter.

Point is, these kids appear to be excellent at playing make believe together, at least when they are not trying to kill each other. During visits I set my phone timer for whatever my brain can handle (30 minutes tops but often less) and then I am done with that particular activity. Including pretend, watching the older one play games on his iPad, and playing with clay. That may make me a bad grandparent, but it makes me excellent at self-care.
posted by Bella Donna at 1:09 PM on January 10




I don't remember my parents ever pretend-playing with us

Serene Empress Dork - I have the same memory of this ('70s- early '80s). My parents were mostly great, but we never played pretend stuff with them that I have any memory of. Like you said, my parents would play with us, but w didn't do imaginary things together. Maybe this is a newer thing parents do?
posted by SoberHighland at 1:12 PM on January 10 [3 favorites]


Nobody ever warns you how much feigned enthusiasm parenting requires

I dunno. As a non child-haver I kind of absorbed that through observations of parental interactions with offspring from an early age. I guess we filter the data in support of our innate motivations.
posted by freya_lamb at 1:13 PM on January 10 [6 favorites]


Our 3 year old is in full pretend play mode at the moment and she does like to drag in her parents. This can be fun, but she also likes to run the same scenarios multiple times, which can be awfully irritating.

Tiny Croft is an only child and is also about three, and yeah, she drags my wife and I into it and makes us run through things over and over again - typically very condensed run-throughs of her normal day. It looks like this is a very standard toddler thing.

The thing is, it seems to be a natural behavior that they come up with on their own. It's certainly not like we were encouraging her, going, "hey, how about if I be you, and you be mommy, and you pretend to drive me back and forth to school, using the couch as our pretend car, over and over again until you have to go to the potty."

So I have to assume that this is a wired-in thing for them, or at least most of them, and therefore that it was probably this way for previous generations of toddlers too. So did boomer kids come and try to drag parents into these imaginary scenarios back in the day, and the parents just said no? Or has something really changed since then? And if so, how did that happen?

Another weird thing is that this only seems to apply to adults. I don't see her playing with her friends from preschool like that. Get a bunch of them together on playdates and they're certainly not making up storylines and casting each other against type. They just seem to chase each other around the room at full tilt, shrieking like a conga line of banshees.

And before one of you weasels snags it from me, MetaFilter: a conga line of banshees.
posted by Naberius at 1:18 PM on January 10 [4 favorites]


I don't remember my parents ever pretend-playing with us (1960s-70s). We played pretend with playmates or alone

My father did not play with us at all.
He may have when I was a toddler when I don't remember, but throughout my childhood I have distinct memories of the times he did play with us.
He doesn't do sports, he wouldn't have played with GI Joe and his idea of playing with matchbox would be explaining how the British car industry failed.

So when the first grandkid arrived, it was with great delight that we watched him being ordered around the playground by an imperious toddler:
"No, Grandad, you have to chase fast!"
"No, Grandad, the yellow car is for me, you get the crash one".
"Grandad, you can wear the feather hat!"


My parents live thousands of miles away, so when they visit, they get full on concentrated grandparent time. It's honestly a wonder they stay as long as they do.
posted by madajb at 1:43 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


In some ways having multiples is harder than having singletons... but this is one area where it is really freeing. My kids play pretend with each other very independently.

Yeah, I’m shocked this entire article got written and didn’t mention the big component, which is that parents stopped having multiple children in succession as much and there’s a lot of only-child families. When there’s other kids, either neighbors or in the home, you can just kind of let the kids play and so you’re not requested to play as much. There are advantages of smaller family sizes, but this isn’t one.
posted by corb at 1:59 PM on January 10 [9 favorites]


I’m glad I had video games where I lived (country, no kid neighbors). I’m glad my kids have a solid playgroup on the street and can walk two houses down to slay dragons, play tag, or impersonate kitty cats to their hear’s content.
posted by RolandOfEld at 2:54 PM on January 10


Our kiddo (coming up on eight now) has had pretend play/dress-up as basically a religion/way of life since he was first able to toddle around. It does get pretty exhausting, but once you get the hang of "not now, I have to [grown-up thing]", it ended up working okay. He's also big into narrative thread, so you can get a lot of mileage out of over-the-shoulder "Wow, really? What happened to the baby alien puppy ninja after that?"
posted by Scattercat at 3:15 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]


I was an only child who played alone a lot. I didn't generally mind when my parents said no to playing with me, I knew they were there, mom was usually on the periphery doing some quiet adult thing (mending, folding laundry, prepping meals, etc.) with proximity trailing off as I got old enough that I could be expected not to accidentally kill myself for prolonged stretches. More direct parent time was usually reserved for structured activities -- going for a walk in the park, being taught something about art or gardening, assisting with chores in some way, being read to, that kind of thing.

All kids are different, but I have no memory of ever really having a difficult time entertaining myself and honestly that has persisted into adulthood. Last year at one point I was in a business training session where the leader did an activity where everyone had to sit quietly and do nothing (no talking, no phones, no writing/reading) for three minutes, in a simulation of a condition clients have to endure at one part of a process. The point was that this is uncomfortable and annoying and we should try to minimize that time, which, sure, but I didn't find it troublesome at all. I just mentally returned to some daydream I'd been having, writing stories in my head. I've got a whole universe just stored away to step into anytime, and if I had children, I'd hope they'd develop that muscle too.
posted by gloriouslyincandescent at 4:15 PM on January 10 [11 favorites]


Reading the article and this brought me up cold:
“I am currently 15 weeks pregnant with a sibling whose entire existence is pretty much predicated on the hope that he’ll play with his older brother so that we can go back to having time to ourselves,” wrote another mom of a preschooler.
That's certainly an approach to deciding how another human being deserves to exist!
posted by sobell at 6:38 PM on January 10 [3 favorites]


Hoo boy, that does sound bad. But I have definitely heard people say that they want their children to have siblings so that they won't be alone in the world, which is only a longer-term version of the same thinking.

I'm an only child. At some point I became suddenly and extremely private about the world of imagination, at least from grownups. I was even uncomfortable talking about book characters with my mom. It's hard to figure, since I was such an imaginative child. I think I just needed to assert a boundary.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:10 PM on January 10 [5 favorites]


Basically modern kids don't have a community. There are kids at school or at day care, but they only get to interact with their peers when and where the adults allow it and of course when the adults do allow it there is usually some structured activity and the kids can't opt out.

Kids are being raised in such deep isolation that adults sometimes have to take on the role of their playmates. It's amazing what we can adapt to.
posted by Jane the Brown at 7:20 PM on January 10 [15 favorites]


That's certainly an approach to deciding how another human being deserves to exist!

...


Basically modern kids don't have a community. There are kids at school or at day care, but they only get to interact with their peers when and where the adults allow it and of course when the adults do allow it there is usually some structured activity and the kids can't opt out.


Those two things are intimately linked. I wanted my kids to have *each other*; it's just as much we had Kid 1 to pave the way for Kid 2 as we had Kid 2 as a playmate for Kid 1. I wanted them to have someone in their lives in their own generation as a constant, someone who knew them and their lives and their growth. Some of that's pragmatic - two kids are easier than one in many ways - but some if its so they have a start at building that community. Learning free form play, learning to be considerate of other people's needs, and learning there are more people in the world than just them.

You can't have a community beyond that. That's the starting point. And a lot of single kid families run themselves ragged getting those messages across. We're really fortunate to be able to have two kids, and I get there are likewise pragmatic reasons why others don't, and it's getting harder and harder to get that freeform socialization. We're in the thick of school holidays here and most of my son's friends are unavailable to play, almost purely because the parents all work full time and the kids have been booked into care of one sort of another for months in advance, and they're still going to have to pay for it if they come play with us instead. Others are spending as much time as they can with non custodial parents (often internationally!). And we're in a kid dense inner city area where all the families, by law, live no more than a kilometer away. There's no just "kicking him outside" right now either because Australian Peak Summer is hot and dangerous for a solid four hour block in the middle of the day, where it's not on fire, so he's sitting on the couch playing Pokemon rather than building those skills. When his sister wakes up from her nap it'll be all on again, but without her around he'd be fucked. And she in turn is articulate and resilient and has a whole host of skills she's picked up from him.

So I don't play pretend as much with her, because they play together and get things out of it I can't give them as an adult. And my son is learning patience, and empathy, and how to explain things to someone who's still picking up vocab.

That single child family thing is a huge piece of this puzzle. So is overworked parents - there are knock on effects beyond just the single family unit.
posted by Jilder at 7:54 PM on January 10 [4 favorites]


Yes, I have a stack of siblings and neighbor kids and no memory at all of pretend play with my parents, though I’m sure it must’ve happened at least occasionally. Modern upper class parenting seems so isolating, and is delivering us a tranche of Zennials who have no idea how to have cross-age social relationships, because they’ve just never been really embedded in a community.
posted by praemunire at 8:14 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


I don't remember pretend-playing with my parents, either, but one's memory of the pre-four era tend to evaporate, plus there were six of us.

I did lots and lots of playing with my singleton toddler daughter back in the day. It was tiring sometimes, and now and then I said, "Daddy has to go and lie down for a while." But, hey, it only lasts a few years. She is well-balanced AF now, more so than her Daddy, but I can't blame those play-days for my problems. I treasure those endless playtime moments in retrospect, as I treasured them then. Fuck the experts.
posted by kozad at 8:43 PM on January 10 [4 favorites]


Sometime when he was five my kid lost interest in pretend play. When we play now it's Snap, Snakes and Ladders, football, rock-paper-scissors and so on.

It was bit of a drag, especially with the repetition. After we went to a hotel once we had to play Hotel Dogs again and again. He was the dog, I was the human, I had to go to the reception desk staffed by stuffed toys and book a room, then go to the lift, go to the room, etc...

I sort of miss the innocence of it though, and at least you didn't get tears or tantrums when he lost.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 9:00 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


My kid does not pretend play. He never has. I've gone through a lot of pearl clutching and self-recrimination wondering whether this is my fault for not playing the right way with him as a toddler, and does this mean there something wrong with him, is his development hampered in some way? Etc....

But whatever the answers to those questions are, I have come to understand that adults just have a bunch of ideas of what childhood "should" be that are based on... not much really. The fact that my kid would rather play a board game than pretend, or rather build a circuit than draw a picture (and definitely rather read a biography than Harry Potter) doesn't mean that he's less innocent or imaginative. It just takes a different form that's a bit less soft-focus and nostalgic for adults (especially adults who choose to go into careers working with children).

And none of that ever got me out of being asked to play with him :-/ Chutes and Ladders is just as irritating as pretend play, as every parent knows. I'm very glad now that he's old enough to play actually fun games and also that we have a whole street full of kids his age. I still get roped into playing cards with the whole gang of them, though.
posted by soren_lorensen at 10:22 PM on January 10 [5 favorites]


> I suppose I should be more generous though, and just file this in pile B of the two piles that all writing on child-rearing seems to fall into: "Do X" and "It's okay if you don't do X."

I'd add "none of this might be relevant if you and/or your kids aren't neurotypical."
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:05 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]


One thing that really confused me about this piece (though this comment thread helped clarify) was the conflation of "play" with "pretend-play." I get not wanting to use the phrase "pretend-play" a million times in one piece, but it really threw me. "Playing" with my parents consisted of many things, including playing board games, or swimming, or singing goofy songs in the car, etc.

This, from the article, sounded awful to me. Playing with a child is like letting them eat candy?

I asked her, “But kids love it when we play with them! Don’t you feel mean, saying no?” She said, wisely: “They love candy, too. And you can’t just let them eat a lot of candy all the time.”
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 4:05 PM on January 11 [3 favorites]


Do people find that having siblings actually serves to "get the parent off the hook" for the film-director-from-hell type of roleplay? Maybe if one is younger and lets the other be the director? My two would never do that together; neither would put up with it. If they want to micromanage someone through a pretend scenario, they have stuffed animals.
posted by away for regrooving at 10:51 PM on January 11


Nobody ever warns you how much feigned enthusiasm parenting requires


It's true, nobody did. But I found, at least in my limited experience (5 biological and 3 stepkids in a complicated patchwork family) that the answer was a rather strict zero.
posted by holist at 11:15 AM on January 12


This, from the article, sounded awful to me. Playing with a child is like letting them eat candy?

You know I would actually agree with that. Kids need to learn their own autonomy and how to interact with non-structured situations, and parents are operating on a different developmental level and often provide structure even in situations when they aren't meaning to. They've also got to be permitted to be bored, so they can learn resourcefulness. Give 'em candy, as often as you think is sensible, but let em have the meat and veg of working shit out for themselves, too.

Do people find that having siblings actually serves to "get the parent off the hook" for the film-director-from-hell type of roleplay?

For mine it's very half and half. Ms Potato, who is two, wants to pretend play different things than her brother, who is six. There's enough overlap that they play a lot, but we still tag in from time to time to play Feeding the Baby Doll the Same Bottle For Twenty Minutes or Exciting Byzantine Death Match Pokemon Battle Royale - Now With Extra Rules! so they have someone willing to play their game on their terms.

I also have five younger siblings and so have very little memory of playing with my parents. But I do remember getting fed up and going off to play on my own a lot because the younger kids couldn't follow my more complicated narritives, which co-incidentally is what my son is doing right now - some kind of dubstep Pokemon Lego Transformer danceoff by the sound of it. He couldn't do that with his sister and I'd just cramp his funky flow, so he's doing it on his own.
posted by Jilder at 7:04 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]


My parents liked to watch me play pretend and gave me ample Montessori inspired resources to do so, but I also don't remember them actually playing with me. We read together, we watched TV and movies together. Play was for me. It delighted them to be spectators. I really appreciate that.

I, however, will drop everything to play pretend with my niece when she reaches that age. Tell me what to do, darling. My imagination is yours to command!
posted by Kitchen Witch at 11:02 PM on January 13


soren_lorensen, I never did much in the way of pretend-play as a kid either. For that matter, I had almost no ability to make up fiction when required to in school. (Why do writing assignments for kids always require storytelling? I hated it so much, and found technical writing to be very easy.) I think it's just a part of how my brain works, not a function of my upbringing.
posted by Belostomatidae at 5:24 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


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