Friday, April 01, 2005

Child-Directed Play

I wrote this yesterday for Postcards from Holland, "a group blog for families of children with chronic or life-threatening illnesses, or any physical or mental disability, and those that have lost children." But I can't post it there now, not right after Carol's Memories of Holland. I know that my feelings are valid, but they're small potatoes, a phrase which here means that they seem insignificant and petty, next to what she's been through over the past year. *

One of the reasons that infancy is so precious is that it's such a short period of time. There are only a few months when your little bundle of joy is a snuggly round ball of (mostly!) sweet-smelling baby, content to be carried around all day.

By 18 months, kids are so independent. They run around, they talk, they let you know what they want. And the play, the play - it's child-directed. Child-directed play. Walking around. Talking.

I wonder if other parents ever think about how much easier it is when you can occasionally put your child down in the store or outside without sitting her on the filthy floor or ground. I wonder if other parents cherish each time their children run up to them with a toy, saying, "show me!" I don't know, because they all seem to talk about how exhausting it is to have to run after a toddler all the time, listen to her asking "Dat?! Dat?!" (What's that?) over and over, go to the park again and again.

Ellie is 17 months old. She's a great little babbler and mimic, but she doesn't use language (that I can understand) spontaneously on her own much. She doesn't stand unassisted. She doesn't walk. Things could be so much worse. There are so many things that she does do, and does incredibly, unbelievably well. But -

On days when it's just the two of us at home alone all day, like this week when she's had a cold and we haven't done much, it's so exhausting. I'm exhausted by not running after a toddler. I'm exhausted by mommy-directed play, where I entertain, entertain, entertain, and hope that I happen upon what she wants. It's hard work and it's emotionally exhausting.

Infancy was unbelievably precious, yes. And now, ungrateful me, I am ready for the next phase, please.

*(Note the Lemony Snicket reference!)


Psycho Kitty said...


Moreena said...

Please, go ahead and post it.

When I was thinking about this blog, I thought it would be nice to make it very inclusive--that is, not just for parents of kids with liver disease or just kids with DS or CP kids, as most support sites are. And I also decided that it should include parents who have lost children.

For one thing, I think that it is inspiring to parents to read the wonderful, thoughtful stuff that parents write when they need to deal with any of these issues. Secondly, I know there are some parents out there that have kids with diseases so rare that they probably don't have a big community devoted to their child's disease (see Rojo, for example). Thirdly, the wide range of experiences is, I think, what makes this blog interesting.

Carol wrote a very powerful piece, but you're posting this is not going to diminish Carol's at all, obviously. And your piece is powerful in recognizing the toughness of the day-to-day things. Not that you're not grateful for those days, I know...

What I'm trying to say is...Post it!

I hope you all are out soon enjoying the sunshine and over the winter bug stir-crazies.

Jessica said...

So well-written and expressed, Sarahlynn.

none said...


I can really identify with your post, even though our situations are externally different. Hope you post it. I think everybody´s thoughts are valid.