Love Kids. Hate to Play.

Guest post by Silk Chen.

My son Lucas is a three-year-old who loves imaginary play. He has been this way since around his first birthday when he folded a kitchen sponge in half and galloped it across the dining table, saying, ‘Horsey, Mummy! Look!’

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This is an essential milestone in his development. I know this because, according to the blue-book, I need to alert the maternal-child health nurse if he hasn’t engaged in this playing style by this age. So I’m delighted that he ticks this box.

The trouble is I’m his favourite play-mate, with my husband as a distant second choice even though he loves to play. Of course I’m (secretly) chuffed about this!

Which mother doesn’t love being the centre of their children’s world?

But playing (especially make-believe play) makes my brain go numb. This is ironic since I love writing fiction. I know.

Despite my aversion to imaginary play, I have dutifully agreed to be Lucas’ play-mate. I keep my voice light and chirpy when we pretend to ‘rake and scoop sand’ on our shaggy rug using his bucket-and-rake beach set.

I fake alarm and urgency when his little blue monkeys (from a Barrel of Monkeys) get run over by the wheels of his pick-up truck. Together, we resuscitate them, pumping their chests with our fingers.

I also smiled and clapped when, during his toilet-training, he took his teddy bears to the potty and made them pee and poo-poo as well.

I do all this with a waning interest, counting the minutes until I can suggest we read books or watch one of his favourite animation movies instead. I’m seen “Frozen,” “Rio 1 and 2” and “How to Train a Dragon,” more times than I care to count.

I’ve also read “The Way Back Home,” “Lost and Found,” and “The Little Golden Book about Firemen” dozens of times. And I’ve answered his same questions about these movies and books more times than I remember. But it doesn’t bother me.

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I love films and books, and I like animations…well, at least the ones with a decent story-line and character arcs, so that doesn’t include things like “Bob the Builder,” or “Peppa Pig.” Luckily for me, Lucas is not as keen on ABC for Kids.

But lately, Lucas has developed an obsession for dinosaurs. Knowing this, my parents have given him a set of plastic dinosaur figurines. To me they are dull and nasty-looking creatures but he thinks they’re the best. So now Lucas wants me to let T-Rex fight with the Triceratops.

He also insists they must say, ‘RRaaaah!’ And I’m forced to do it again if my roaring is not convincing enough.

He says, ‘Not like that, Mummy! Say RRaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!’

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We also have to chase each other, whilst crawling on all fours, like dinosaurs. I silently sigh and allow him to drag me along. But I’m on the edge of screaming. I want to tell him to go play by himself.

I want to say that I can’t stand reptiles, especially these giant, extinct ones. Most of all I want to declare that I hate playing children’s games. Even as a little girl, I had little interest in playing, except for dolls.

As soon as I could read more than a few sentences, I had always preferred a good book over skipping or hide-and-seek.

But I keep these thoughts inside because I know that before long Lucas will start school, make friends, and probably prefer doing boys things with my husband. Our playing time together is precious.

So I grin and bear it, hoping that he doesn’t notice Mummy is a fraud.

Silk Chen is an aspiring writer of stories set in exotic Old China. She also loves beautiful clothes, needlework, period dramas and desserts.

Silk Chen

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