playing games with bubble

I am conventional to the core. It’s not my favorite thing about myself, but there it is. I am a rules-follower and a people-pleaser. I did well in school, especially with teachers who were clear in their expectations. I feel comfortable when I know how something should be done and I can do it in that way. And I want other people to follow the rules, too.

Computerguy is not particularly conventional. He does things his own way in his own time. Mostly I appreciate that about him. He really doesn’t care what other people think or how other people might do something. I admire and envy that.

Our daughter is not even a little bit conventional. She has never once used a toy as it was made to be used. This has been true since she was little. A box of board books became blocks while a set of blocks became stands for her Noah’s Ark animals. A pack of sidewalk chalk became dolls and candles on a birthday cake (a Christmas tin or turned over pot was the cake). The little port-a-crib that came with her doll has been a swimming pool and a bus for animals–never a crib. Her creativity knows no bounds. I wait in anticipation what she will come up with next.

But. I like playing games. And I looked forward to being able to play games with my daughter.  Last year we bought Chutes & Ladders and for Christmas we got CandyLand. She’s old enough. She understands the games. She understands the rules. She doesn’t care. She wants to play the game. We get it out, pick pieces, and play for maybe 2 turns. And then she’s done with the rules. She starts taking her pieces up the ladders and down the slides in Chutes & Ladders. Once she stops playing for real, I set the timer so there will be an ending time since these “games” never actually end.

Playing CandyLand this morning, she wanted to use only the “special” cards for herself and I could use the colored cards. So we split the deck. Then she wanted Rabbit and Moustie to play, too. Then she decided they needed their own cards and she got out her little box of books and made stacks of books for each of them to be their cards. And she decided what each “card” meant as we picked it up. And so on. I just sit back, half try to play on my turns and half just wait and do whatever she tells me to do. In some ways it’s fun to see what she comes up with. I do wonder what will happen when she gets to school. Will she start playing by the rules or will she lead everyone else into playing her way or will she find herself doing her own thing her own way alone. Do I need to help her learn to play by the rules? Right now, I don’t think so. Eventually, maybe. Like everything else in this parenting gig, we’ll have to play it by ear and figure it out as we go along.

And creative play? No problem there. She can spend hours playing with her Little People Castle or with her new Dora House. What a mind she has. I hope we don’t stifle it too much when she gets into schools that still cater to people like me.

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