I read an article in Scientific American Mind that stated, “Fathers spend proportionally more of their time engaging in play with kids.” Based on my personal experience, I tend to agree.
I’ve spent a good part of my life as a parent on the floor playing with my children. It started when my daughter was just a baby. Weighing a little over six pounds at birth, my daughter seemed so small and fragile. I remember swaddling her and cradling her head to protect her from harm.
As she grew older and stronger, I became less cautious and more adventurous in our interactions. I’d toss her in the air, spin her around and fly her through the house like an airplane (complete with sound effects). While my daughter and I were having a great time, my wife was fretting each moment.
“Please be careful,” she would say. “Don’t drop my baby.”
“Don’t worry,” I’d say to reassure her. “We’re just playing.”
Another one of our favorite games was “Upside Down Baby.” I’d grab my daughter by the waist and flip her over while screaming, “Upside down baby!” My daughter would squeal with delight and yell, “Again!” I’d flip her over and she’d say, “Again! Again!” We’d repeat this activity over and over until my wife could stand it no longer.
“Why can’t you play with her more gently?” my wife would ask while removing my daughter from my grasp.
“I’m being gentle,” I’d reply. “Besides she likes it when we play this way.”
After a couple of years of “Airplane” and “Upside Down Baby,” my daughter discovered dolls. Since my wife never liked playing dolls, guess who got to have tea parties with Barbie.
I must admit that I went a little overboard. I purchased dozens of dolls and accessories. There was not a scenario that we didn’t have the props to execute. I’d get into character by using funny voices and placing the dolls into unusual situations. For example, Barbie was once a superhero who had to save Ken and various stuffed animals from invading alien bunnies. My daughter and I would have so much fun that we didn’t want our games to end.
After the boys were born, playtime became a bit more rambunctious. Picture the wildest WWE wrestling match and you’ll have an idea of what goes on in my house on a regular basis. When my youngest son was around two years old he would say, “Daddy, let’s play punching.” Of course, Daddy always obliged.
Although my wife doesn’t always approve of the way I play with the children, she’s learned to accept it. Even if she can’t stand to watch my picking up the boys and throwing them on the couch, she likes to see us having fun together.
Lately, our play time as been a bit more subdued. We’ll play LEGOS, cards, video games or basketball. But my daughter, now 12 years old, surprised me a few weeks ago with a request.
“Daddy, let’s go to the game room and wrestle,” she said. I smiled and raced her up the stairs while my wife sighed and shook her head in disbelief.