“Think of how you played as a child.” I told myself this morning when my small daughter performed her daily ritual, begging me to play dolls with her. Inside of myself I grimaced, I don’t want to play dolls right now. Mommy needs to do laundry, water the garden, go to the grocery store. Maybe we could go buy her a new toy while we shop for dinner. I wanted to do something productive, not play pretend. So I dutifully reminded myself that pretend play with children is vitally important to downloading their thought and experiences and putting them into practice. And playing with children in the way THEY want to play is also the highest form of compliment you can offer a child. So, I put down my car keys and followed her into her room. She handed me a small naked doll and a dress to put on her, and suddenly I remembered, I did like playing with dolls, I’d just forgotten how I played as a child. I never played in my room, always took it outside.
To really embrace the moment with her, we had to engage in make believe together, so we took her dolls outside. They became faeries, and explored the garden, rode horseback on the dog, and saved a new thirsty plant. We’d become heroes.
So this was one example, but every child and caretaker is unique. I remember one day last year my son desperately wanted me to play with his trucks and cranes. Again the internal grimace, but then wait a minute, I liked making videos, so we made this crane story video and posted it to Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Q6yYkfALCU
Silly, I know, but when you are trying to find a magical way to bond with kids, don’t forget yourself. Find a way to connect your ingenuity with theirs. Life with children doesn’t have to be the same monotonous swing. Look inside yourself. What of yourself can you contribute to the game?
Remember: children aren’t the only ones with magical abilities; adults can add the magic to the monotony.