Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Will You Play with Me?

Yesterday Declan came into my office after school, looked up at me with his big brown eyes, and plaintively asked:

"Will you play with me?"

I think it might have been the first time he ever asked me that.

Between school, activities, and assorted cousins, caregivers, and friends, Declan always seems to be heavily occupied. He's never needed me to play with him before.

Of course, I do try to make it clear to him and Ronan that when I'm in my office I'm working, and that I stop around 4:30, though then I usually make dinner and perform other random household tasks (the other day I cleaned out and reorganized the pantry, which held, I kid you not, a can of Creamora that had expired in 2001).

It's not that I don't want to play with Declan, it's just... okay, it's just that I don't want to play with Declan.

Don't get me wrong; I love spending time with Declan, and would actually choose to bring him along on a day of errands or to go out for coffee and chitchat. I love taking him to the movies and on our weekly weekend outings to the zoo or aquarium or such.

But I'm just not good at the "playing with kids" part.

Declan likes to play games like "Pirates Kidnap a Princess and a Group of Sled Dogs" or "Robin Hood Fights the Mean Guys and Performs Magic Tricks." He's the poster child for imaginative play. Me? I'd rather write about it than act it out. I guess as an adult I've lost the freeing inhibition of childhood, the one that allows you to jump around pretending to be a sled dog without feeling stupid. I'm so glad Declan still has it. But I can't say I'm too sad to have lost it.

So of course, I caved to those big brown eyes and said yes, of course I'll play with you, and braced myself for the complicated world in which I was about to enter.

"What do you want to do?"

"A puzzle?" A puzzle! I can do puzzles! I guess Declan knows as well as I do that I would make a terrible sled dog.

So we sat at the kitchen table, I helping him with his puzzle, he helping me make dinner. And we were happy.

And the second Erika got home, he raced off to play with her, to an elaborate world of royalty and animal husbandry.

And we were happy.

1 comment:

Kimberly said...

I have to tell you, I'm so glad to read this. I adore my daughters, but I cringe when one of them asks me to play with them, because it usually involves an elaborate role-playing game where I am fed lines ('Now you say this mommy"). It's mind-numbing. I'm relieved to know I'm not the only one.