Let Them Play!

“Oh my gosh Jack, I’m gonna go crazy!” I say. Jack woke up early from his nap and I’m still getting ready.  Jack’s opening every drawer in our bathroom (that’s not childproofed) pulling everything out, razors, shaving cream, shoe polish, toothpaste “that” he says, over and over again. Holding a bottle of lube up, “That.” I keep taking the items and putting them back in the drawers, closing the drawers, then it repeats. He’s fast, I can’t keep up with him. It’s only 9:45am. Our reservation for Play Center isn’t until 11:45. I don’t think I can handle being in the house for that long at this pace. I call Play Center to see if there’s a spot at 10:30, there’s a Yoga class at that time too. They can’t take us till 11:00 at the earliest. I make an executive decision, cancel the gym and Yoga and go to the Discovery Museum instead. I wake up Fiona, get her ready, then put both babies in the car. I realize one of the bottles has totally spilt in our food bag. I’m annoyed but not surprised. It’s a beautiful day, we eat our lunch outside before we start playing.

It’s been awhile since we’ve been here. Jack and Fiona are the perfect age to enjoy everything the Tot Spot has to offer. They run around checking out the other kids, Fiona carries around an Otter puppet. They play with blocks shapes and put them in the correct slots. Its hectic keeping an eye on both, they go in opposite directions. My new strategy is to just stand in front of the door and engage in play with one of them every once in a while. The place is packed today. There is a member appreciation party with face painting and a bouncy house, I think Jack and Fiona are still too young so we skip that part. We play outside in the fake stream with the plastic fish and frogs, I hear all the other moms telling their kids, “Don’t splash” or “Don’t put that in your mouth.” I don’t say that stuff anymore because it’s a losing battle. I hope Jack and Fiona don’t splash near a kid that’s mom is hovering over them saying “don’t splash.” I imagine those moms getting mad at me because I’m letting my babies splash, but isn’t that what this stream is for? It’s a nice warm day, they won’t get cold.

We play in the Tot outside adventure playground next. They climb up the rope ladder, run down the hill, examine acorns and sticks from the Eucalyptus tree. There’s a two year old girl playing too, she’s really cute. Her mom was telling her not to put the water from the stream in her mouth earlier. I told her mom “I heard you keep saying “NO” to your daughter at the stream, I gave up on that! It’s too much!” Then I wondered, is that O.K. to say? Everyone’s so sensitive these days. Fiona is playing with a wheel you turn to make a lizard move up and down, I just showed her how to do it. She’s still a little young to be able to turn it very well. The two year old runs over and starts to turn it. Her mom says, “No! It’s not your turn, let the baby do it, you had your turn earlier.” I almost said, “It’s OK.” But then thought I can’t say that because to her mom it’s not OK. In my mind the little girl just wanted to show Fiona she could do it, I don’t think she could understand the concept her mom was trying to get across. Also the way toddlers move from one thing to the next so quickly I don’t think anyone has to worry about someone “Not getting a turn!” Fiona and Jack can handle themselves. I let them work it out on their own, I never interfere in free play unless I see danger. My babies don’t need to be protected from two and three year olds during play. Unless of course someone has a stick or something!

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