It all begins innocently enough. After breakfast Peter will watch an episode of The Magic School Bus and then he will head into the playroom. I am usually in the kitchen drinking a cup of coffee, washing the breakfast dishes and trying to scan the headlines from the morning paper so I don’t sound like a complete idiot when someone says, “So what did you think about the huge volcano eruption in Canada?” Too many times I’ve been completely unaware of some major world event and have had to politely say “Oh, yes, um, horrible!?”
Inevitably after he heads into the playroom I will hear a sweet little whiney voice call out to me, “Mommy. Will you play with me?” And so the day begins. I trudge into the playroom wishing there was more coffee in the pot and plop down onto the floor right beside him. He has dumped three Rubbermaid bins of Mega Blocks Pyrates toys on the floor and asks me to play pirates with him.
Peter got his first Pyrate toy from my parents in his Easter basket. Yes. In addition to chocolate bunnies the Easter Bunny brings toys. The Easter Bunny (especially the Grandma Easter Bunny) feels bad for Peter and Sarah because they don’t get any toys except on their birthday or Christmas. They get plenty of toys on these two occasions but the rest of the year is toy free except for the occasional minor gift giving holiday toy. (Minor gift giving holidays would include Easter and Valintine's Day.) I’m sure this is the case in many households and it is true at our house too. We have never given into requests for any new play things. We always answer with, “Put it on your list for your birthday.” Or with “Maybe Santa will bring it.” Luckily for Peter and Sarah they have generous relatives who like to begift them throughout the year. (Grandma, Aunt Cathy and Aunt Barbara immediately come to mind!)
Peter has been playing with these Mega Block Pyrate toys since March and his love for them has not diminished. When he finds a toy he likes he will stick with it way past the time that Mommy is completely OVER IT. For in stance on his second birthday we got him a set of cool blocks. He played with these EVERY DAY until around age four. At that point he started getting bored with them. He still brings them out but it’s usually just a once or twice a month now. (I highly recommend these blocks by the way! $25.00 well spent!)
Anyway, back to the Pyrate Megablocks. He creates little islands with the blocks and then starts making up very detailed stories about them. He always asks me to play with him and I’m never sure why because I never seem to do it right. I will always go into the playroom and ask him what he wants me to do. He usually asks me to build an island. But I always do it wrong. No matter what I do I get an emphatic, “You’re doing it wrong, Mommy!” So I will try to do it “right” whatever right is. After a few more failed attempts I will put together an island to his satisfaction and then he will start yelling at me to “Play, Mommy! Play with it!” Agh! Am I not already playing with it?? Have I not already been playing for 15 or 20 minutes?? So then I will start to take the little pirates and make shooting noises and will start to say things like “Arghh, Matey! Where’s the treasure!?” Sometimes this will appease him and other times not so much. I always say a silent prayer of thanks when Sarah comes downstairs asking for breakfast. Thank goodness for my other duties! No more pirates. For now.
But once she’s awake and fed I start getting requests to play “baby”. This game is a little less annoying for me since it only involves me sitting at her table and pretending to eat the food she has prepared for me. Many times it involves a tea party which is easy enough for me to pull off. I usually don’t get yelled at during these rounds of make believe play like I do when I am pretending (poorly) to be a pirate. Maybe it’s because I’m a girl and “baby” comes more naturally than “pirate”.
I didn’t realize being a parent would require so much pretend play. And I’m not sure why I dislike it so much. I can read them book after book. I can do craft after craft. I can push them on the swing for hours on end. But for some reason I can't get into the pretend stuff. In my head I imagine other parents playing happily on the floor with their kids for hours on end laughing and serving up another round of tea or engaging in yet another bloody pirate battle. Meanwhile I’m thinking to myself “how much longer do I have to do this?” I worry that my lack of enjoyment for these activities makes me a horrible parent. I keep telling myself that the kids need to learn to play by themselves. I think I’ve read that somewhere. That’s what I keep telling myself anyway…
I know I can’t get out of playing pretend games with my kids so I have found something that makes it a little more bearable. Luckily our playroom is located fairly closely to the family room which of course contains a TV. So now before a round of pirate or baby I make sure that the TV is turned to a Mommy show (usually the Today Show) and that the volume is turned up.
For some reason as long as I can hear adults in the background having adult conversation I can suffer through the pretend games. And as an added bonus I can learn more about that volcano eruption in Canada at the same time.