One recent Tuesday morning, I had a half-hour breather before I had to leave for work. The breakfast dishes were done, laundry hummed in the dryer, and my 1-year-old, Aidan, was happily tossing wooden blocks into his dump truck. So I sat down at the piano to practice a new song. I had played only three measures, however, before Aidan was crawling up my leg, screeching for attention. I sighed, peeled him from my leg, and settled down to build block towers, wistfully eyeing my sheet music.
Lately, I've had scarcely a minute to myself, because Aidan seems unable to play without my constant attention. My main comfort lies in knowing that I am not the only parent in this position.
"You find yourself doing desperate things," admits Elizabeth Pantley, author of Perfect Parenting (Contemporary). Pantley confesses that when her child was 1, she let her take the wrappers off all 64 crayons in a brand-new box in return for five minutes to herself.
Except for those deceptively quiet moments when they're getting into trouble, most toddlers have a hard time playing alone. And it may be partly our fault. "During babyhood, we're the most entertaining things in our children's universe, willing stars in their own private Sesame Street," says Pantley. "Toddlers haven't had the chance to realize that life can be just fine without Mom or Dad right beside them."