“The greatest gift you can bestow upon your children is your time and undivided attention. ” – Jim Brozina
I took my son to a play time on Wednesday that we’ve developed a habit of going to regularly. He is one of the older children, and it’s been really good for him to socialize, communicate, and play with the other kids. For me, getting out of the house shakes me out of my routines and my distractions and allows me to focus more on my children.
In the mix of getting down to kid level and having fun with my son, I usually end up with a couple other kids who can easily and inadvertently end up under my watch.
Since I’ve become a parent, I’ve come across more than enough fellow parents and nannies who take children to play times and story times to get a reprieve from the constant demands children provide. Open gyms are the worst; caregivers gossip on the sidelines or check their phones while their charges are wreaking havoc. But on Wednesday, it was a hands-off nanny and a grandmother who both sat down on the couches to start their nap times. I am happy to help and more than happy to roll other children into our creative play, but when a caregiver is downright neglectful then there is a problem.
Children love attention and so they should. I think it is a sweet wonder for them to discover that these older people who serve as bastions of reason, order, and scheduled mealtimes can also be utterly silly and child-like themselves. I have found that playing with children makes them feel valued, seen, and included. It also takes a lot of energy and sometimes it is daunting to play blocks and kids’ games when your mind is elsewhere. I’ve been called out by kids for phasing out during a game, and that’s not their fault. They are honoring our connection at that moment and want that to continue.
I suppose it comes down to a general philosophical difference in caregiving. Are you raising a child or are you minding a child? And if you have chosen to mind a child then are you really watching to see whether that child needs help or assistance along the way, or is that responsibility falling on the lap of someone else?
When do you check out of that ethos of “a village raising a child”?