Man, kids are cool.
This is my nephew. He is fun.
This is my other nephew. He is fun, too, but this story is not about him. But I want him to have his picture on the internet, ‘cause he’s cute.
Seth is 4 years old. Sometimes he is sweet, sometimes he is fun, sometimes he is a terror, and sometimes he whines. But mostly he is sweet and fun and I adore him.
I was sort of shamed to discover something this week. I often play with him – usually cars, or treasure hunt, or puppet show, or some other game that he likes that day or that is around. I have played with him unnumerable times during his short life, and especially now that I live downstairs from him.
Last week he came down to play, and instead of normally rushing through play time like I would normally do because there is something else I should be getting to, I really took time, sat down with him, and really played WITH him. For, I think, the first time in his young life. I came down to his level, gave him as much attention possible, and really tried to understand him and play and explore instead of rushing through things, or going through the motions of the treasure hunt without actually engaging him through it. OK. Treasure hunt time. I will just follow you and try to pretend to be surprised when we find the treasure though I know exactly where it is because you hid it in the same place the last 6 treasure hunts we went on in the last 30 minutes.
We sat down together. And we PLAYED. And it was cool. Though sometimes I thought I would go insane because we did the same puppet show about 18 times over and he would be upset at me if I would change the smallest part of the puppet show - innate repetition seems to be one of his favorite things in the world. But I really tried to focus on the joy in his eyes and really tried to be excited about spiderman saving Lightning McQueen from certain death over and over and over and over and over again. To play with him – to not just go through the required motions, to be there in that moment fully and completely, like there is NOTHING else in the world as important as saving Lightning McQueen even though he is dumb enough to drive himself into another dangerous situation. To really have that be the most important thing in the world, and not be thinking about what else I SHOULD be doing. That’s cool. And radical, even. And I am a bit ashamed that I was playing with him so often in ways that were not really meaningful.
He’s very smart. He knows when people are listening, when they are not, when they are engaged, and when their mind is somewhere else. So I am trying to really, whenever he comes downstairs to play, to put aside WHATEVER I am doing to really just BE with him. And this is cool. And it seems that he is coming downstairs more often, and simply the amount of eye contact we have, our smiles and giggles together, have increased. And I wonder why I was so dumb that I didn’t realize that I was robbing him of my complete and whole attention before.
Sorry, Monkey. Sorry for wasting so much time, and for disrespecting your need for real connection and real engagement when we play puppet show and treasure hunt. I look forward to many more puppet shows and treasure hunts in the future. Love you!