Monday, January 9, 2012

A floor sitter

So, I read a blog post back in August that has been stewing in my mind every since.  I am not going to link to the blog post because I don't want the author to think that I am completely slamming her (that is not my intention.) But I just can't keep still about it either.

The author of the infamous post was answering the question, "how are you able to get some much work done on your house?"  (I.e. painting walls, refinishing floors, reupholstering furniture, etc.)  She lists a number of things: no watching television, having a lot of the materials on hand, etc., but then she says, "I do not play with my kids.  I am not a floor sitter."  And if that was it, I probably wouldn't be writing this.  The comments, however, were full of people chiming in saying, "Yes!  This is me too!  I believe in helping kids be self-reliant and play independently!"  And then I got all bitter.

The truth of the matter is this: I am a "floor sitter."  Do I want to be a floor sitter?  Not necessarily, although I don't mind playing with my son.  Do I want my child to play independently?  Yes.  But I have no choice in the matter!

Sometimes I feel like parents give themselves too much credit for their child's behavior:  "I taught them to be independent because I didn't give in to their every whim to play."  When in fact, I think the child's temperament accepted the parent's initiation of independence.  There is a huge difference between the two.  (Let's just be honest here.  The child is almost always in control.)

Finn is very.......attached.  This is his personality and temperament.  Trying to get anything done that does not involve playing with him is........difficult, if not absolutely impossible.  For example, I attempted to sew pillowcases for Mr. F.'s non-standard size pillow.  This took months.  Finn would allow me to pin or sew one seam a day then he would start grabbing, crying, sobbing, etc.  You could only put him off for so long before he would get genuinely distressed.  This wasn't just throwing a fit because you didn't get your way.  I can ignore that.  No, this was, "why have you abandoned me!? why don't you love me anymore." 

Now perhaps that difference is that my son is younger and he is so far the only child.  This is a significant distinction (the author of the post had two children, one of which was preschool age).  Maybe when I am at the stage she is, I will too be able to state that my kids entertain themselves while I work on other things.  (Oh please!  Let this be the case!)  But more and more I am convinced that I, as a parent, have very little control over any given situation.  A square peg will not fit into a round hole no matter how hard I may push.

I think it would more realistic to say that, "my child requests my presence on the floor."  And so I oblige.


heidikins said...

I love this post, and I love that you are of the "hang out on the floor" type. Love. If I had a gold star and a blue ribbon to send your way I would.


Janssen said...

See, I am a "let my child play independently" mother. Sadly, Ella has not gotten the memo.

Every now and again I can sneak away without her noticing and she'll play by herself for ten or fifteen minutes. But this is very rare.

I am so with you on children pretty much coming preprogrammed with how they are going to function. You can nudge, but you can't completely remake them into a personality they are not.

Jaimee said...

Word. I completely agree. And frankly, only parents of similarly temperamented kids can understand this.

Trudy Woodland said...

I think more independent play does come once they get a bit older. I also think the child's disposition plays a huge role in how much they need you. I have one that would prefer to play independently and another who is constantly asking for me to play with her.

I don't love floor play but I too oblige. They are only little for a short period of time.

Love your blog!

Washington Hills said...

Just had to chime in, too. I think you hit the nail on the head. And just a thought - it could be that the original Post from whomever left out a few very important facts, like "While I let my kids play independently so I have my own life going, they sneak into my bathroom and draw on the walls with my mascara." Just saying, no kid is perfect. And neither is any particular mama...

Washington Hills said...

Dangit. Or how about this one from five seconds ago, "While I let my kid play independently so I could blog, he opened up a sleeve of Ritz and smashed them all over the floor with a laugh." Crap.

Kristina said...

I read a quote once that changed my whole perspective on mothering: when they are in your arms they aren't under your feet. At the time I felt so annoyed and resentful of not getting anything accomplished-i wanted independent kids! After I read the quote I tried to compartmentalize my time better. Kids awake= playing on floor or teaching how to help me. Kids asleep=my time. They are only young for a few years, small drop in a huge bucket. Also, when my house is alittle messy I feel great about messing it up more with playdough. BTW I have really independent kids now.


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