Learning to step back; Independent play

During the recent half term break from school and nursery, I noticed a huge change in the pecking order in our household.

It’s always been the case that if they’re colouring, WE’RE colouring. If they’re watching kids TV, WE’RE watching kids TV. If they’re playing make believe, WE’RE playing make believe.

If I’m lucky, I’ve been able to skirt around the edges, doing some practical stuff or having a cheeky phone scroll (much to their protest), but we’ve always been a proper Girl Gang, in the thick of it together.

But now it seems, I’m cramping their style.

As I’m blitzing the kitchen after tea, I hear cries of “MUMMY”, so I hop to it, locate the call and report in. “Not you. We’re playing a game”. Oh right, okay….

Rinse and repeat. In fact, more cutting and direct instructions from the mouse… “GO AWAY MUMMY”.

It makes sense I guess. Back in the 80’s I’m sure most of my childhood memories were playing with other kids from up the road, family friends, my brother, or just alone in my room. I played with dolls, my little ponies, care bears. I made camps, I read books, I drew pictures, I made models out of craft stuff. I don’t really remember doing it with my Mum as my shadow. She was pretty busy doing, well I don’t know, ‘Mum stuff’.

If I had a sister, with common interests, just a couple of years younger (or older) than me, I’m pretty sure we’d have had an ace time making perfume from rose petals together, making up dance routines to Kylie and Jason, and memorising every word of the little Mermaid together.

As it was, my brother and I kept ourselves amused exploring the far end of the garden, racing snails, making mud pies and fortresses. We’d play our 80’s games – the ones that came out of boxes and required a bit of imagination. We had an inflatable spaceship which was the height of cool, and we spent many happy hours in that silver blow up rocket. And of course, we also spent a fair bit of time in our own space, following our own interests. Him mainly involving breaking joystick after joystick on his SNES, and me learning to grow vegetables with our next door neighbour, drawing and making random nick nacks out of FIMO.

I suppose back in the present, it’s been a sudden change of events, and one that needs adjusting to, but it’s certainly no bad thing. In the past, the girls wanted me more than I could provide, and I had to distract them while I got shiz done. Now, all the stuff’s done and I’m hanging around them like a bad smell. This is the time I need to pull a magazine out of the rack, sneak in a chapter of my book, or even watch some proper grown up TV, with a brew, in peace, in actual daylight hours. It’s the nirvana state of parenting.

Whilst we didn’t experience this independence in Tigs when she was three, she didn’t have a big sister to play with, to idolise, and to learn from.

Well, we haven’t quite escaped the irony that the moment world war three erupts the second my bum touches the sofa cushion.

BUT….I have a feeling we could be entering new territory. The sun is rising on a new dawn, and I think it’s going to be a lovely day.


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