Parallel Play: Like An “It’s Complicated” Facebook Status
Several times now, Jack has played with his new friend, Jake. Each time in the days that follow, Jack will randomly whine, “I want Jake…”.
I always instantly respond: “Really?!”
And when I say “Really?!” it has the tone of someone who is surprised in a peculiar way.
Jack’s friend Jake is a very kind, intelligent, and wonderful boy. It’s not that Jake isn’t cool, because he totally is.
The thing that’s weird about this is that when Jack and Jake play together, they don’t really play with each other.
Instead, they play somewhat away from each other, despite each other and around each other.
So really, it’s nearly a stretch to even say they actually play together.
After bringing this up to Jake’s mom today while our boys were painting pumpkins, she explained to me that this behavioral phase is called “Parallel Play.”
Cool, so it’s normal after all.
It’s just that with every other friend Jack plays with, it’s more of a thing where they spend half their time basically fighting over a toy and the other half laughing while chasing each other around.
With Jack and Jake, it’s like they have this mutual agreement:
“So listen, just let me attempt to have some ‘me time’ today even though you’re like 4 feet away from me. I’d really appreciate it. Nothing personal.
I’ll do my thing. You’ll do yours. Everybody’s happy. Thanks, man.”
After 3 play dates now, these two bosom buddies/perfect strangers have yet to look at each other in the eyes or communicate with each other in any way.
But that’s what Jack likes so much about Jake:
Jake gives Jack the piece of mind that he won’t be messed with. It’s mutual chill time for the two toddler dudes.
Needless to say, to the outsider, their friendship status is “It’s complicated.”
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