Wednesday, August 5, 2009

It's Not Neglect... It's Building a Better Bond Between Siblings... Seriously!

I really hate playing Barbies with my kids. I do. I really, truly do.

I also really hate playing baby dolls, playing dress up, playing doctor, playing with the toy zoo animals, playing with the train set, the Legos, the building blocks... just about anything. And when it is movie time with my girls, 9 times out of 10, I'm sitting there thinking, "How can I escape Elmo in Grouchland and go to a different room without the girls noticing that I've abandoned them and our happy little family movie afternoon?" I really hate kids movies, too.

Am I a good mom? Yeah, I am. We draw together, we paint together, we read books and play board games (sometimes). We say I love you about ten million times a day and mean it. We bake cookies and brownies and yellow cake with chocolate frosting. At lunchtime we have a make-your-own-pizza bar...

But when it comes to the kid stuff, I'm more than happy to sit out.

I used to feel very guilty about it. I'm a stay-at-home mom for crying out loud. Playing with your kids is kinda in the job description. BUT I don't feel guilty anymore. Why, you ask? Here's the answer: The more I say, "Gracie, sorry but no. I would rather tear my eyeballs from my head and serve them for dinner than play Barbies with you," (slightly dramatized for your reading enjoyment) the more she sighs and then goes over to her little sister and asks, "Annelie, do you want to play Barbies with me?"

To which 2 year old Annelie,thrilled to be included, enthusiastically shouts, "Uh HUH!"

Gracie is even beginning to share her 12 imaginary friends with Annelie, and (while I'm trying hard to be invisible, lest they see me and rope me into playing, too) the two of them are frequently heard shouting out for Harry and Hermione to save them from the trolls.

For the first time in their lives, my kids are playing nicely together. I know that if I step in, if I pull off the invisibility cloak, pull out my imaginary wand and play along, they'll expect me to play every time. They wont look to each other when they want someone to play with, they'll look to me. Me.

I don't want that. I want them to put on their Disney princess dressy-uppy clothes with matching shoes and play dress-up for hours with each other. I want them to build elaborate villages with their train set, building blocks, and farm animals and play all afternoon. I want them to tell each other secrets, share each others baby dolls, have tea parties with all of their stuffed animals... And, as they grow up, I want them to have scores of happy memories of playing with their sister. To have a bond and know that they will always have each other.

They know I'm going to be there for them. That goes without saying. I don't need to sit down on the floor with Rocket Scientist Barbie and say, in a high pitched voice, "Why hello Ken. Would you like to go shopping at the mall with me?" while wearing a princess crown, in order for them to feel a connection with me.

But you know what siblings are like. They fight. I don't want my girls to kick and scream and steal each others boyfriends when they are in high school. By forcing them to rely on each other as playmates, I'm instilling a sisterly closeness that they'll have forever. I'm fostering a strong sisterly relationship.

It's not neglect, it's building a better bond between sisters. Really.



  1. AMEN sister! I too like to enfore the "you MUST play with each other for a little while before I go insane" rule!

  2. Oh man I totally insist that Brayden and Gage play together so that I can think like an adult for a little bit.

    I mean, I'm all about legos, Thomas the Tank Engine, hot wheels, and Star Wars, but those interests are better suited to be shared between a 6 and a 2 year old!

    Heck, I've even gone so far as deciding that when we move the boys will share a bedroom (mostly so that I can have my very own craft room) so that they can be together and live together and learn to get along and enjoy one another ... or at least thats I'm I'm telling people, its mostly so that I can have the craft room!

  3. Oh you are so not alone when it comes to hating playing with kid toys, haha. Today I set up a blanket on the living room floor, and told Eleanore that if she didn't come and play with her brother, I would take away all of her toys for the entire day... I'm awful, haha. But really, even though part of the stay at home mom job description is "play with the kids", it sure is a pain.

    Your post took the words right outta my mouth, haha.

  4. Amen! I get so bored sometimes- you know, when I should be cleaning- and look at my kids playing happily...but I really don't want to interrupt them! It IS good for them to spend the time together. You are just fine! :)

  5. Oh, I hear you!! Oh my goodness! I have a 6 year old boy and he's been an only child for all of those years. I am terrible at playing with him. But we do lots of other stuff together, so I won't feel too bad. Plus, he's got daycare and school buddies he's with all day. Mommy deserves a break!

  6. BeckyKay, the great thing about letting your only child play on his own, is that you are fostering is INDEPENDENCE! Just as important, in my books! :D

  7. Perfect! My boys are best friends! They need each other and I need them to need each other. Playing their silly games is out of my relm, but certainly love crafting, cooking, and going on walks with them. I love instructing, reading, and helping them become better little people, but they have to learn how to take care of themselves eventually. Mom's are people too!

  8. Not a Mom... but have bee thinking about it. Such a great blogpost, smart perspective.

  9. here, here! you are singing my song, sister. sounds like we are living in the same house....i must admit, i'm very much the same way. i think for me, since i work outside the home, i try to get them to play together just so i can have a minute of peace to students barging into my office, no husband asking me to go google something for me (really, that drives me insane...the man knows how to use a computer), so i fully believe in instilling that play together value in the kids. like you, i know i play with them in other the creating together and reading together...and all the extra snuggling. they know mama loves them. but mama won't be around forever. god willing, sissy will be around MUCH longer. :-)

  10. Gracie said:

    Who said that adults were suppose to love
    playing with toys? It is so important for children to learn to play by themselves so they don't become dependent on moms to entertain them. So many children have become emotionally crippled as adults because mom was there at their every beck and call during their childhood years. Unfortunately these "adult-children" can't make decisions for themselves. So I say "bravo" to all moms
    who know how to say "no" and enable their
    children to become independent and emotionally healthy. So keep up the good work, Marissa. Cousin Gracie says : you are a great, mom."

  11. Gracie said:
    Teaching your children to play by themselves
    is wonderful training. You do not want them to become dependent on you to entertain then
    so that they are not able to think and be creative for themselves as they grow up. Keep up the good work, Marissa


We love comments! Please let us know you stopped by.