In the midst of spending every waking moment with your children lately, you’ve probably started to learn a few new things about them. Like the fact that they eat roughly six thousand times per day. Or that they have the attention span of, well, a small child. Something else that’s probably come to your attention is the fact that playing with them sucks.
Now, before you prepare my trophy for “Worst Mommy Of All Time”, hear me out. I’m not saying your children suck. I’m saying playing with them sucks. I’m also not saying that spending time with your children sucks. I don’t mean playing at the park or going for a picnic. I’m talking quarantine-type games. And colouring. And building stuff. If you disagree with me, congratulations. But if you’re willing to hear me out, I think you’ll agree that I’ve got a pretty compelling argument.
Exhibit A: Children Destroy Everything
Remember when you were a kid and you worked super hard to build an awesome block tower and some little asshole came stomping along and knocked all your shit to the ground? Remember how mad you felt? Do you remember struggling to resist the urge to punch them in the face (or maybe not)?
Well, it turns out that it’s just as annoying to watch someone bust your LEGO castle as an adult as it was when you were a kid. But as a parent, you have to laugh and pretend to be cool about it while teaching your child about resilience and forgiveness. Bleh.
Exhibit B: They Refuse To Follow The Rules
Oh and they don’t just refuse to follow them, they also insist on making their own. NEWSFLASH, KID: YA DAMN RULES ARE STUPID AND DON’T MAKE ANY SENSE.
Exhibit C: They Always Want You To Pretend To Be Some Kind Of Animal That Crawls Around On The Floor
Listen, kid. I’m old. My knees are sore, my back is sore, the ground is hard, and I’ve been up since 5:30 in the morning (thanks to you). There is no amount of Tylenol in the world that is going to make this a pleasant or comfortable experience for me. I’d prefer to be a tree or a stop sign or something more sedentary and up off the ground if that’s cool with you.
Exhibit D: They Are Messy As Hell And They’re Not Going To Clean Up Anything When They’re Done
Let’s say you decide to play Play Doh with your child. There is a 3000% chance that they are going to get tiny balls of Play Doh from here to kingdom come by the time they’re finished playing, and they are probably going to cry about how sore their hands are when you ask them to clean up. Same with blocks, dress-up clothes, dolls, books, crayons… yeah. Anything. If there is a mess to be made, they are going to make it. And if you didn’t think the activity that you’ve planned is a messy one, you’re wrong.
Exhibit E: They Are Going To Be Bored In 4 Minutes
Are you starting to enjoy your game of CandyLand? Are you super into the blanket fort you just created? Well, your kids are bored now. Please go find something else to do.
Exhibit F: They Don’t Want To Do The Same Activity As You, They Want To Do The Activity You Are Doing
Do your kids love to colour? Why not get out a page from the exact same colouring book for everyone to work on? Oh, except as soon as your kids see what a great job you’re doing on your masterpiece, theirs will be as good as dog shit. Until you let them colour outside all the lines on your picture (with markers when you were clearly using crayons as your medium) they will not be satisfied.
Exhibit G: If There Is More Than One Of Them, They Are Fighting
Hey, mom. I just wanted to say sorry for the way I interacted with my brother from years 2 – 25. Today I watched as my kids fought over a broken piece of plastic they found on the floor. There were toys all around. It defies comprehension.
I mean, they’re going to fight anyway, but if you aren’t actually playing with them while they do it you can at least pretend you didn’t hear it for a while.
Exhibit H: You Don’t Get To Have Any Input
You may want the character in your game of dolls to be named to be Princess Sparklefart, but too bad. Your kid is going to want her name to be something incredibly creative and out of the box like “Doll Girl”. And that’s what her name is going to be. Same rules apply for any type of imaginative game. If you want to have any input into the storyline, don’t bother. Your ideas are stupid and your 2 year old is going to let you know that pronto.
Exhibit I: You Are Going To Be Uninvited From Their Birthday Party By The End
If you aren’t willing to bend to the very strict rules set out by your children when it comes to game play, you will probably be deemed unworthy of attending their birthday party. Even if you’re the one who plans the party. And bakes the cake. And buys the presents. Trust me, that shit cuts deep.
Exhibit J: Everything I Said Above Is True But I’m Still Gonna Play With Them (Sometimes)
I like to think that I’ve done an okay job of raising my kids to share and be kind and clean up after themselves when they’re done playing. But they’re little kids. Sometimes they’re gonna be grouchy, or tired, or stubborn (kinda like me, with a less-developed filter). And I guess that’s okay.
So, I’ll play with them. And sometimes I won’t. I love the crap out of those little monsters, and even though their games are weird and their rules are dumb, it can also be fun to be part of their creativity and play. And sometimes, it can be better to watch from a distance while I sip my coffee in whatever we are defining these days as “peace”. I’m trying to balance it out and teach my kids that everyone’s needs are important, and sometimes, mama just needs a break. As long as they know I love them whether I’m playing with them or not, I’m pretty sure that’s just fine.