And Then It Happened: They Played While I Drank Coffee

When I brought the ball of chub we now call Leyna home from the hospital, Kendall showed mild interest. For the past 2-ish years, they’ve mostly peacefully coexisted, but never to the point where it’s been beneficial to me to have 2 of them.

You know what I’m saying? Like, when people are all, “It’s so great having 2 because they keep each other entertained!” That hasn’t been my reality. At all.

I haven’t been able to leave the two of them alone in the same room, really, for fear Kendall would accidentally hurt Leyna. He means well, but he’s never quite grasped the whole “be gentle, she’s not a punching bag” concept. Not that he ever actually meant to punch her (except that one time…), but I think he’s mainly thought of her as an inanimate object most of her life.

Until she got real- real big, real bossy, real talkative (and tattle-y), and real tough. This girl knows how to keep up with big brother, AND how to keep him in line. And I think that has finally put them on a somewhat level playing field.

Suddenly, like within the last week, they are magically friends.Β They played together the majority of the day today, saying things to each other like, “Wayne-a, come on! Let’s go play beach. I’ll show you how to get there! We have to take the elevator.” (Which is, obviously, our linen closet.)Β And then I’d hear, “Wook at me, Ken-dow! Wook at me!” from Leyna as she climbed to the top of the slide, eager to show off and please big brother.

Granted, we’re talking “friends” in the sibling sense, so of course there was our fair share of, “Mo-OOOMMM!” followed by your typical tattle, but I gave no cares! Because they were playing! Together! While I watched TV and drank coffee! And then I cleaned the house!

And for once I wasn’t feeling guilty about not planning a Monday play date or taking them on an outing so they could “socialize.” It was lovely. A day I’ve longed for since I became a parent.

Kendall was always so high-needs, and I wound up catering to that, creating (or responding to?) a kid who needs to be entertained by someone else 24/7. Meanwhile, I learned to ignore Leyna a little more, and she’s GLORIOUS at independent play.

Note (especially for 1st time parents): IGNORE YOUR KIDS MORE. YOU WILL THANK ME.Β 

Finally, FINALLY they can play independentlyΒ together.

  • Abigail - This is so precious. And It’s going to be super helpful when the new baby arrives and needs a good chunk of your time and attention.ReplyCancel

  • Carrie - Just in time for a newborn! πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • Andrea - I am not sure that first time parents can ever do that (ignore their kids more, that is). I certainly failed! But having had one for a couple of years now and having #2 on the way, I think I was out of my mind jumping up at every little whimper day and night. This one is on her own, haha!ReplyCancel

  • Anastasia @ eco-babyz - Awesome! I’m so with you on that! I think kids need to be just left to themselves more instead of constantly being entertained. My 4 year old and 15 month old have been the same, couldn’t really leave the older one with the baby alone, she was NOT gentle at all with him. Still isn’t, haha – but now he is getting big and bosses her around too! It’s fun to watch them or to just get some food prep and cooking done while they play and chase each other. There are plenty of screams and bumps, but they’re good for the most part. The only problem is that my little one LOVES to watch me cook and always wants in, if he walks into the kitchen and I look at him, he immediately wants into the baby carrier to see what I’m doing, so I ignore him and most times he just walks away. NO EYE CONTACT is key sometimes to getting things done! πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • Karina - Yup, I’ve got two boys aged 4 and 7 and I barely see them any more. They sit and play in their bedroom together and come out when they need food or a referee in one of their arguments. It’s so nice to have that quiet time while they’re still awake instead of having to wait until the evening!ReplyCancel

    • Amy H - I have a baby boy due in May and my son is 3. It’s reassuring to know that someday I won’t have to entertain them all the time! I’m scuuuurrrrrd:)ReplyCancel

  • Jill - I am waiting for the day when I can leave my 2in a room alone. Like, seriously, stop yanking her around by her hands, it makes her fall down (for the 6 millionth time). I agree, I do try and ignore mine if I can. It allows me to get a few things done. If my toddler is in a clingy stage, I’ll get her started with something, and slowly back out of the room. If your kids cant play together, then I highly suggest making a different toy area for the older one with ‘older age’ toys (you’d be amazed how well my 4 year old says choking hazard…btw).. and allow them to play there, or ask them to now and again to let the toddler play alone. it’s amazing how happy they both are playing independently (in separate rooms!)ReplyCancel

  • laura - I guess that means I have one more year until my two can play together peacefully. Though my 25 lb 1 year old holds his own with his 29 lb 3 y/o sister, so I don’t really have too many worries about her hurting him, but I long for the time when they can entertain each other without me being a part of it.ReplyCancel

  • Jess Z. - Same thing is happening at my house! Lucy looks for her big brother to show him stuff all the time, and he tickles her, then he pretty much steamrolls and drop kicks her and she tattles and they fight, but at least they are starting to play on their own! Hooray! Last night they were even playing Legos together! Exciting stuff, I tell ya πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • Beth Anne - This is the one thing I hate about my kids (Harry & the not-yet-conceived second child) being so far apart. I was FANTASTIC playmates with my older brothers, but there was only 3 years between us. My mom said the best thing was that a) we played with each other & b) when the boys went to school, I was so thrilled to have time alone that I played by myself.ReplyCancel

  • Meghan - Super jealous, and cannot wait for the day when it happens in our house. There have been tiny instances where my 4.5 year old and 2.5 year old have played together a little bit, but most of the time it ends in an argument. One day they will love the heck out of each other…I just know it! In the mean time maybe I should ignore them a bit more.ReplyCancel

  • Carrie R - Ahhhh, so sweet…plus a huge step forward πŸ™‚ I also totally agree with letting your kids maybe, I dunno, get bored (gasp!) and learn how to entertain themselves. That being said, I am totally guilty of not teaching my firstborn this. She was the only child for FIVE. YEARS. so when little bro came home, you can guarantee it was a shit storm for everyone…it’s all cool now though. They are both independent, and they play together. Love it.ReplyCancel

  • Jackie - Playing together just in time to add another one. πŸ™‚ They are so cute together. I can’t wait until my 4 year old plays nicer with my 1.5 year old.ReplyCancel

  • molly - It really is the best. I mean, there are fights of course. But for the most part the DO keep each other entertained.ReplyCancel

  • Jen Boumis - That moment? Pure awesome.ReplyCancel

  • Bobbi - That is such an awesome feeling, I am beginning to see glimpses of this for my future and I can’t wait.ReplyCancel

  • Kelli Baker Martines - I TOTALLY agree about ignoring your kids more, my second child is amazing at independent play, I always thought I had to be on the floor playing at all times with my first, um no, now that is what she expects all day everyday, omg.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah Milem - Congratulations! Whenever people ask how ours play independently so well, I just tell them I am not the cruise director. Kids will get creative with enough time and opportunity.ReplyCancel

  • MeganStilley - First time parent here and I totally ignore my kid when possible for this reason. I want him to play by himself. Whenever we are around family (we don’t live near them) we always have to have a transition period to get him use to me not playing with him all the time, again.ReplyCancel

  • Birthing Beautiful Ideas - These moments of independent play are precious indeed: both in terms of their cuteness and in terms of the precious TIME they give to us parents.

    Sometimes I watch my three boys playing together (and it’s happening more now that the youngest is 13 months old and less “blob-like”), and it makes my heart explode. (And then my brain explodes when they start arguing, but at least the preceding blissful moments make it all worthwhile.)ReplyCancel

  • Lisa - I think it’s one of the downsides to SAHPing or a nanny for a kid – it’s not natural to have one kid with one adult. Until recent,y, human kids have been raised around adults who talked and worked with each other and kids were on their own once they were out of the papoose. They observed adults as opposed to being entertained by them.ReplyCancel

  • Lynet Witty - Gawd, I swear Jill. Your blog is like a book of mine. Mine are the exact same way. I ignore my kids too. πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • http://activist242.org/tiki-view_forum_thread.php?comments_parentId=43&forumId=1 - fantastic points altogether, you just gained a neew reader.
    What may you suggest about your post that you made some days ago?

    Any positive?ReplyCancel

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