Kids Growing Up · 29 May 2009

The worst thing about my kids growing up is not that they talk back or that they are not as cute as they used to be. It is not that they do not seem to love me as much as they used to. The worst part about my kids growing up is that I am losing playmates.

One of the reasons that I have kids is because I like to play. And each of my kids likes to do something different with me than his brothers. Thing 1 used to like to kick the soccer ball around when he was younger. Now he actually plays on my church basketball league team. Thing 2 and Thing 3 like to kick the soccer ball around like their big brother used to, but they really like it when I play video games with them. Thing 3 also likes to play tennis and throw the Frisbee around but they seem secondary to video games.

I love to do all these things with the kids, but they seem to be in their own little world and rarely invite me in. They would rather play with each other or their friends. As Thing 3 put it the other day, “We can play with you anytime but we can not always play with our friends.” It was a nice sentiment but a bit sad as well. They know that I am always here so they can take me a bit for granted. I guess that is another part of parenting that they never tell you about.

I suppose that losing my playmates is partly my own fault. I forget that they like their own activities and I should try to get excited about them. Then again, Thing 3 has found football (which I coach), but he would rather play with friends his own age than throw the ball around with me. And when we all play a four person video game with teams, I am the one who nobody wants on the team. I am definitely not used to that. Especially since I used to be better than all of them at video games. Of course, each was probably only three when I was better than him. In reality, I do not really mind the losing. It is not getting picked for the team that bothers me.

Maybe not wanting their dad to be on their team is part of the separation that must take place as the boys age. They still want to play with me when it is convenient or I am the only one around. But they need to find their own way paths. They need to be their own men.

So after looking more critically at the whole playmate picture, I think I must have gotten it all wrong. I think I will work on a different strategy to having my boys stay my playmates. I will concentrate on an activity that at least the younger two enjoy. Fishing. Since the two of them can not drive yet, I am the one who must take them to the lake. I guess age does have its advantages.

I suppose that it is natural that children outgrow their parents a little. Especially as playmates. I just hope that I can get good enough at some of their video games for them to want me on their teams again. And I hope that we can catch some fish together. At least with that activity and maybe basketball, we can all play together for the rest of our lives. That way, I will not lose my playmates forever.

© 2009 Michael T. Miyoshi

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