I read an article last weekend that claimed an "alarming number" of parents in the United States report that they talk to their children for only a few minutes each day. I started to think about my conversations with Caroline. Would reading books count as a chat? Probably not, Caroline’s favorite books right now are poetry that we sing in our own form of recitative. Sometimes I can get her to talk about her books with me, but mostly she will interrupt anything she thinks sounds educational, turn my head back to the page, and demand that I "stop and read!"
Then I thought about dinner time. We always do ask her how her day has been, and talk about whether she went to the park, but the majority of our discussions seem to dwell on whether she will or will not chew her food all the way through. I decided we needed to expand our conversational mediums.
This morning, full of resolution, I sat down with Caroline and tried to teach her to play a matching card game called Snap. In our family, playing cards has always been one of the best times to have a conversation. Someone will put out the cards, softened to a velvety patina with age, set up a bowl of M&Ms and tall, ice filled glasses of water, and we’ll draw to deal, then start a round of Hearts, Spades, or Canasta, depending upon who calls the game. We’re pretty competitive, so we’ll pay attention to the game, but mostly it is a good way to be together and to catch up.
Caroline, like most toddlers, resists rules. Each time we try to play a game, I bring out my unoriginal explanation that a game, with two people, needs some sort of rule to make it fun for each person. But really, I haven’t quite come up with the best way to explain this annoying phenomena to her - some clever explanation that will fit into her toddler perception of world revolving around self. As usual, the game this morning didn’t go over very well, because she wanted to hold all the cards, and each time I placed a card down, she’d snatch it up and say, "mine, Caroline’s card!"
Finally I asked her if she wanted me to play with her and explained (again) that if you want to play with other people you have to share. I thought that we’d have to pack it up and go back to reading books. I waited. Caroline waited. We sat there for a good two minutes, Caroline holding onto all of the cards while I contemplated the unmade bed, the dishes in the sink. Then she handed me half of the deck so that we could try again. We played four rounds of Snap. We talked about matching colors together, and how green meant go and red meant stop. Then the babysitter came and I went to work.
2 hours ago