Lockdown brought new ways for Alison Curtis to bond with her child through play.
I have written about this in the past in these columns but I had a lot of guilt around Joan being an only child. I didn’t want her to be an only child because I have such a great relationship with my sister and I wanted that for Joan. For the first six years of her life I put pressure on myself to have another child.
But the trauma of Joan’s arrival and my health after I had her due to developing postpartum-preeclampsia meant I never got up the nerve to face it again.
On her sixth birthday I came to terms with accepting our triangle family as Joan calls us. For the past three years we have chugged along well as a trio. She is developing into a very caring, funny, kind little person and one who I really enjoy hanging out with.
The fact that she is a solo kid didn’t seem to have any negative side affects for her, so to speak. I always made sure she socialised lots outside of school. We had playdates with her friends across the week and she had a lot of extra circular activities outside of school to expand her circle of friends.
However when lockdown happened my husband and I soon realised how important it was that Joan had spent so much time with her peers. At first, like all the kids, FaceTiming and having those independent chats were a novelty and she couldn’t get enough of them.
Then as the weeks went on phone and FaceTime chats lost their appeal and were no longer as exciting. It was seeing someone in person and being able to play with them that she was really starting to miss.
I tried a good few times to play with her and her LOL or OMG dolls or pretend we were YouTubers but to be honest I am guilty of getting bored too quickly.
I know that she really needed me to take part in these games with her and that she really needed my full attention.
So as the days and weeks went on I tried to find things that we would both enjoying doing. So we could get that one to one time and be entertained at the same time.
First we got back into playing cards which was something we did for hours at my cottage in Canada where there isn’t any internet or TV.
We were forced to seek out old fashioned fun and we loved it. We also went back to the memory games we played a lot when she was younger and really enjoyed them too.
But the one thing that bonded us like no other was Lego. I loved it so much as a kid and played it for hours at a time and thankfully Joan really digs it too. So I splashed out on a few new Lego kits which was wise as we both spent ages together building new creations she was so proud of.
The reality is Joan is nine and she needs to play like a nine-year-old, to talk like a nine-year-old about things that interest a nine-year-old. So in the absence of her friends during weeks of lockdown I had to at times call upon my inner nine-year-old in order to meet her needs.
To get down on the floor and assume the character of Candylicious or Shadow or whatever as we played dolls. To make endless slime. To talk about and watch Cookie Swirl C. To commit and go for it. I may not be as good as her pals at all this, but I have to be a good substitute until we get back to a time when we can all be together again.