My 4 (almost 5)-year-old says, “Mommy” at least 700 times a day—and that’s just from after school until bedtime. Imagine what it’s like on a weekend! He’s never been very good at solo play. On days when he doesn’t have an after school activity, he sticks to me like a barnacle on a whale. But, his teachers tell me he sings a different tune when he’s in school.
Am I parenting him incorrectly, or it just one of those things where he acts differently with his teachers than at home? People tell me it’s common, because at home with me he knows he’s safe. I’m not sure about this….
So, this weekend I changed things up.
Typically, I would say to Luke*, “Please go play in your room” or, “There are your Legos—make the tallest tower ever, ” and Luke’s usual response would be, “I don’t wannnnnn tooooooooo.” (I’m often guilty of giving in to the “play with me” pleas.) But this time, instead of standing at the doorway and pointing to a toy to play with, I went into his room, sat down with him and emptied out a bin full of Legos. Sitting together we built a small platform and brainstormed what could be launched off it.
“I know,” he said, “it could be heliport, so we should build a helicopter.” I nodded. “Oooh, maybe it could be a valley with dinosaurs. Can we build an allosaurus?”
“You can build whatever you want,” I said. I noticed that he really wasn’t listening, but instead was sifting through the Legos, looking like he had a mission. “Hmmm, you know, I have to go to the bathroom. You keep building.” I slipped out of the room, listening to the sound of the plastic pieces being shuffled.
Ahhh. Maybe all he needs is a bit more encouragement to play on his own. Starter kits if you will. Maybe I should make separate bins of “starter kits,” like for coloring, puzzles, train tracks, blocks…. How long have I been standing here in the hallway? What can I go accomplish now in my unexpected free time?
“Mommy?” Luke called about 20 minutes later. I sighed; it fell like 20 seconds. At least I got 20 minutes. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll get a full half hour. It’s better than nothing.
* Name changed.