I’ve Been Incongruent To My Kid’s Parallel Play Style

2 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack,

I’m finally just now realizing why you insist on asking me, as well as Mommy, to play with you on the living room floor, only to have you get upset once we actually try to play with you.

And, no, we can’t do other things like read a magazine or check our email since you’re not actually interacting with us.

We have to be playing too, but there are rules…

It’s because you’re used to “parallel play,” like at school with your friends.

You’re used to playing near other people, but not actually with them, the way I would define the word “with.”

So I’m learning to respect that.

Now I know not to grab a monster truck near you and say in a falsetto voice, like you use when you narrate your own playtime, “Hey, you want to race?”

Because you instantly tell me that’s your monster truck.

Then you assign me another truck you don’t care about for that particular moment.

Well, I figured out how to do this thing right.

I find a toy that I assume you will think is undesirable; one that is out of your view. I sort of turn to the side where I’m not facing you, but where you can still see what I’m doing.

Then I make it seem like whatever I’m doing with that toy is the coolest thing ever. Turns out, whatever it is, you always immediately end up trying to copy me with whatever “cooler” toy you have.

Suddenly, your monster truck will be driving to Whole Foods because my yellow race car just announced he was going.

It’s almost a competition of stories, of sorts.

I have these ideal images in my head of what it means to be a classic yet modern dad who actively plays cars with his son- a certain way.

You don’t.




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