There’s an interesting article in today’s New York Times about the movement among upper-middle class white Americans to bring back children’s play. The general idea is that, in today’s world of over-scheduling, video games, and toys with predetermined narratives, children no longer just play freely without regard to rules because they don’t know how. It’s doesn’t help that because many parents have children when they’re older, they forget how to play themselves.
I kid (sort of) about the upper-middle class white Americans thing. It’s the Times. It’s their readership. Every slight change in their lifestyle is now part of a “movement”. But as I read the article, while generally agreeing with the premise, I also see the “we’re letting our kid’s toys … into our living room! Isn’t that just wild?!” and that photo of the Roskers and I worry that I may suffer vision issues from excessive eye-rolling.
At his day care, there is a free-play component to every day so I’m glad that he has that, in addition to social aspect, which he misses at home. We live in an older neighbourhood with few young families so he doesn’t have friends nearby that he can just call on. My neighbourhood growing up was a newly erected subdivision so many of the kids on the street were all the same age. Playing was simply a matter of walking out the door and finding someone. Today, we need to add it to Google Calendar.
I do admit this is an issue with me. I’m good at preparing meals, giving my kid a bath, reading to him, actively watching TV with him (or that same opening scene from Toy Story 3 over and over again). But when it comes to sitting down and playing with him, I’m at a loss for what to do. He always hands me his Thomas train and says, “Daddy do”. I just assume at some point, he’ll take over and start playing on his own. So I do my best to just play with him until I can hand the train back and say, “James do”.