June 25, 2003

The importance of play...Yesterday we headed to the dr's for an early morning visit to hear their baby's heartbeat. They love being able to be "helpers" there and to hear the heart, I think they are really starting to understand what is going on and are getting excited. Of course I need to bring a million things to distract them while I try to carry on a conversation with my midwife. Yesterday file folder games and food seemed to work the best. Our two year old practiced matching colors and patterns and our near four year old worked on matching numbers and a phonics game. They seemed to enjoy it and not realize they were learning something.

On our way home we contacted a friend we haven't seen in awhile, the little boy our daughter believes she is going to marry when she gets older. We spent the next 5 hours at their house. The kids just played in their own little world while the mothers actually had adult conversation (what's that again?) They were pretty evenly paired (about 3 months difference between the older 2 and 6 months between the younger two) and they played amazingly well together. They ran around, climbed, jumped on a mattress set out for that purpose, pretended they were firefighters and ballerinas and police officers. Went camping, hiking and just exploring. They sat and read books to each other for almost a half hour and they were really good about including the younger siblings in their play. They were all in such a good mood and clearly had so much fun. At one point we all read a book together and acted it out with puppets and the kids pulled those file folder games out of my bag and were playing with them again. But other than that and supervising lunch they pretty much kept to themselves, of course asking us to watch them now and again. It really reminded me of some of the things kids find most important and get true joy out of.

This is also a family that has made some very similar parenting choices as us and our kids get along really well, in part I believe because of those similarities. While it is nice to have lots of diversity in their lives it is also nice to have some relationships where you have confidence that the children are on the same page as yours and everyone is very nice and inclusive of one another and even differences can be worked out between the kids with little adult intervention. At one point one child accidently hit the other with a toy and the child who was hit (our daughter) said to the other "I really didn't like when you did that to me, could you not do it again." And the little boy said "I'm sorry and I won't." It was a refreshing change of pace from the way I have seen some other children try to resolve or not resolve their differences with my kids. And the result was we had 5 hours together with 2 4 year olds and 2 2 year olds with no meltdowns, no fights and two missed naps! It was a wonderful day!


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