For me, the most important thing about PlayTime is the guaranteed one-on-one interaction I get with each of my kids. Most of the time, we try to stay in the structure of child-led play, but sometimes we’ll deviate a bit. Last week, my daughter Morgan and I went for a walk on the beach. It extended for well beyond the designated time, but since we weren’t engaging in full-on play (which tends to be exhausting for me), I was totally happy with that.
Yesterday was another beautiful day. I went on a run and stopped by at our beach to enjoy the sun. After I got back, it was PlayTime with Morgan again. She said she wanted to go to the beach again, but she ended up getting upset about not finding the clothes that she wanted to wear. When it became clear that she wasn’t going to budge, I suggested that we just do a regular PlayTime at home. But no, she still wanted to go to the beach. I asked her to “climb out of your hole”—a phrase that my wife recently started using with me when I’m in a bad mood, but that didn’t help either.
Then I noticed her American Girl doll and said, “Shall we play with dolls at home instead?” And just like that, she jumped up and said, “Okay!” and we were off. It turns out that Samantha and Kit are actually long lost sisters, with amnesiac parents named Paul and Polly, both of whom faint a lot. Also, Samantha loves horses but has never had one of her own. Imagine how excited I was—I mean she was—when she got a new horse for her birthday. Polly taught her all about how to groom the horse, brush its hair, curl its mane and tail, and even fix up a broken leg. Polly knows her stuff; she could barely get it all out when talking a mile-a-minute. The rocking horse still has its paper cast on this morning, but it should be able to come off soon.
That’s why I like PlayTime. Even in the face of a near melt-down, playing dolls with your Daddy can have an instantly positive impact on your emotional state.