I’m standing outside, watching my son and daughter in the yard. The 5-year old is up in “his” apple tree and his devoted sister is holding court down on the ground. He might be throwing things down at her, or he might be throwing things down to her, the appropriate preposition is all a matter of one’s point of view…
I get mixed up when I am called upon, (or more often, NOT called upon), to intervene in their play. In the above scenario, I couldn’t help myself — I raced forth and tried to change the game a bit so that the little one, Jenn, had a better role, even though she wasn’t complaining, wasn’t really at risk, and was happily engaged in a game with her brother. Of course, we all know that my intervention didn’t work but actually ruined whatever they were happily playing, leaving them both looking at me with the “Entertain us; we’re bored” face.
I know I need to leave them alone and just let them play. I’m pretty sure the “experts” say we should let them argue, let them tussle, let them work it out. And I want to do that, except when Jenn (my baby for another 4 1/2 weeks, when her baby brother is supposed to be born) is involved. I don’t like seeing Jenn always “it” in a tag game she can’t win; always last in the race her older brother orchestrated, always wanting to play with him, regardless of how grim her role might be in the game.
Ultimately, I need to be more hands-off in these instances. But somehow, I always regress to being the little sister: I’m 5 years old and my older sister and the neighbor girl have invited me to play horses with them again. Every time, I eagerly accept, even though I know my horse whinny noise isn’t good enough. (I still have a weak whinny.) And every time, I’m initially surprised that they AGAIN have tied me up with jump ropes and left me as a prisoner, as they galloped off down the hill in the back yard.
How involved should we get? Do we hide the jump ropes, or just wait to be summoned to untie someone?