Posted on | February 9, 2015 | 5 Comments
Yesterday I did something I’ve never done in my life. J was sitting on the sofa, begging for some play time on the iPad or something different on television or even the use of my cell phone. I was getting frustrated. He has a room full of books and toys and none of them were being used. None of them.
All he wanted was something electronic.
I threw out suggestion after suggestion and he wasn’t having any of it. My patience was worn thin and finally I told him to get his shoes and coat on. He wasn’t really sure what was going on, he probably thought we were about to head somewhere with video games, but he did what I asked. I took him by the hand, walked him to the back door, and pushed him outside.
“One. Hour,” I instructed. “Go play.”
I have a fenced in back yard. He couldn’ get out of the yard unless he asked for help on the latched gate or climbed the fence, so I wasn’t all that worried. I brought Riley inside so there wouldn’t be any issues with the dog getting in his way, and I just… shut the door.
He stood there for a moment, dumbfounded. He stared at me in the window with a look of abject horror on his face. I mean, how DARE I put him outside in the 60 degree sunshine? It took about ten minutes of us staring at each other through the glass for him to realize I meant business. And then something happened…
He went and played.
Granted, it wasn’t for long. And yes, there were moments when he came to the back door and begged to come back in. And yes, I gave up after thirty minutes because I just hated standing there and reminding him to go play in the wide expanse of our back yard. But still… he played.
And I realized that I’ve been doing him a real disservice by always being with him. He doesn’t quite understand the joy in playing alone… in being out in nature and discovering things. While I was slightly appalled at myself for literally locking my child outside, I also was appalled that I hadn’t done it before. I’m appalled that I’ve been fostering this couch potato lifestyle on the weekends that doesn’t really jive with the type of person I want my child to become.
We spent the second thirty minutes on a walk with the dog and we talked a lot about how good it is to be outside. He still isn’t quite buying the idea of being alone outside in the protected back yard, but I’m sold on it. Because it’s not always easy for me to get him to a playground or take him to a museum. I can’t spend my entire weekend entertaining my son, even if I wanted to, because there’s work to do around the house, and yes, I actually need some time to myself. And when I’m sick, I can’t be the fun, playful parent I like to be. I see all these facebook pictures of kids playing in the yard, of kids riding their bikes and being, you know… kids. And mine prefers to sit and stare at a television.
So these one hour “lock out” sessions will continue until my child starts asking to play outside. Because I think I owe that to him… even if he doesn’t understand it right now.