Time to Play: Lessons I’ve Learned From My 7 Year Old

My experience mothering my first child, a girl, was very nearly the quintessential experience I’d envisioned- from the moment they tucked her little red tuft of newborn hair under a pink infant cap, swathed her in a baby blanket and placed her on my chest. Granted I’d just been through hours of agonizing back labor, and being at a teaching hospital I’d felt like my lady parts had been viewed by everyone and their mother in law by the time I finally pushed my girl from my womb. Still lying in bed with her I had visions of tea parties, dressing up Barbies, watching every Disney princess film I could get my hands on, as she donned a tiara and plastic princess heels and of course hours spent playing house in a pretend kitchen (perfect for me the NON COOK) and all pursuits stereotypically girly girl.

While 11 years later I can say I was lucky to grasp some of those fleeting experiences with my daughter albeit when you’re in the thick of parenting a three year old who has a bit of an obstinate nature– my daughter is a fiery redhead to a tee-those moments you experience in the quiet and perfect of your mind- when played out in real-life and real time- don’t always go as smoothly as one would expect. Still I had my proverbial princess- and while she likely played with Barbies and decked them out in those powder blue ball gowns and sparkly mini heels to appease me-I truly relished those moments of picking pretend play- and watching her breathe life into these inanimate dolls and imbue them with personalities.

So of course, when I had my son- I panicked. I had no idea what or how we would possibly find common ground? I have never had any interest in stereotypically masculine pursuits- the thought of vrooming cars up and down my walls, being indoctrinated in all things superhero held absolutely no interest for me. Of course a baby is a baby- I soon came to learn- and no infant pops out of the womb and immediately asks for a dump truck to get busy with, and my son was no exception to that rule. And while his babyhood was infinitely different from my daughter’s– she slept through the night at three months– he at seven years old has STILL not mastered sleeping through the night, I found he and I – different genders and all share so many more interests than my daughter and I ever did.

MY son, can spend hours, drawing and coloring and creating- he loves watching the Twilight Zone with me, he’ll pour over puzzles and in him I’ve found a kindred spirit and cohort in my love for collectibles- a passion my daughters deems my propensity for being labeled a hoarder. And he and I can and have spent hours swapping stories, riding bikes and growing as close as one could hope for.

So I guess when it comes to your expectations and preconceived notions regarding the type of relationship you and your kid will share- my advice- CHUCK em out the window- love supersedes any gender.

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