You Are Your Child’s Favorite Toy
Being a father and raising three amazing kids is, hands down, the most fun, perplexing, rewarding, and exhausting thing that I have ever done. My three children – 13-year-old Thing 1; 9-year-old Thing 2; and 4-year-old Thing 3 – keep us constantly on our toes. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that despite all of the video games and expensive devices at their disposal, as dads, we are our child’s favorite toy.
My children have a lot of toys and we’re pretty loose with when they can play video games or watch movies, especially during the summer, but the thing that my children want to play with the most when I’m around is me. Once I realized that I am my kid’s favorite toy and that ultimately they just want to spend time with me, things became much easier.
I no longer worried that I didn’t have the energy to play with My Little Ponies, Pokemon or Magic cards, listen to them rattle on and on about the latest free game app on their Kindle, or shooting hoops at the school across the street, what mattered was that I was interacting with them.
Here are some of the ways I turn into my kid’s favorite toys:
All of my children are fanatical about the arrangement of their toys. With all three of the Things, it is not uncommon for it to take them 20 minutes or more just to set up their Barbies, My Little Ponies, or GeoTrax train sets just so we can play. Even once everything is set up, they usually act like pint-sized dictators and have no problem telling you that you’re “not doing it right,” or that you have to play with “this one” or “it’s not your turn yet”.
As a parent, you have to improvise and playing with your children is no different. Instead of driving the My Little Ponies to the store, make them fly through the air across the room, or have them speak with funny accents. When a Barbie house is finally set up with furniture and decorations, sometimes an “earthquake” just happens and things fall down.
Normally they would sit in shocked silence with their mouths hanging open, unsure of whether or not it was funny. I like to think it helps them think outside the box and not be so serious when it comes to playing.
Become a Chair or Leaning Post
My kids – not so much my teenager lately – love to cuddle when we watch movies together. My youngest likes to scooch closer and shimmy her way under my arm. I move my arm around or pretend that the “tunnel” is collapsing on her, making her work for the coveted snuggle spot at my side. This usually causes her to erupt into fits of girly giggles, squeals, and shouts of “DAAAAAADDY!”
Take Them Outside
When I was little, I would wake up on summer mornings, do my chores, eat some breakfast and then be gone all day with friends – either on foot or on my bike. The world being what it is today, that’s not typically something we’re okay letting our younger kids do. So getting them outside in an area where they can run wild, get loud, and get sweaty is a great thing! Inevitably, they’ll invent some weird game that we end up playing for a while, before we return home tired and happy.
Flop on the Floor
On days when I have absolutely zero energy, I’ll flop onto the living room floor. The kids never fail to seize the opportunity to begin jumping and pouncing on me. After a few minutes of this, miraculously, I find a reserve of energy and we end up rough-housing for quite a while.
Now that I think of it, most of our games turn into roughhousing and tickle matches. Thankfully, we have tolerant neighbors!
Take Them to a Far Off Place
Not all father-child interaction has to be rambunctious playing and a book without an enthusiastic voice and energy is useless. My kids love it when I read to them at night, and it’s the highlight of my day when I get to do it. I get to hunker down with them one-on-one and read their favorite stories to them.
They ask questions while I read, learn words that they didn’t already know, they discover new worlds and all of the other great things that books show to kids. It’s even better if I’m able to switch up my voice and accents for the different characters.
Every parent is the same in the sense that we all have exhausting days. It helps at the end of a long day when your child asks you to come play with them, when all you REALLY want to do is relax for a few minutes, to remember that it’s an investment of time with your child.
Most of the time they won’t care what you end up doing, so long as you’re interacting with them. They have been waiting all day, eagerly anticipating the time when you come home just so that they be with you.
And that’s a damn good feeling!
What are some of the ways you like to become your child’s favorite toy?
Photo credit: Clappstar