I hate playing

Maybe hate is too strong a word. And playing too broad…

I have a strong dislike for pretend play.

It feels awkward and fake and I’m terrible at it. My heart just isn’t in it and I think kids can see right through my gritted teeth.

When I worked front line with kids and saw pretend play as one of their goals, I groaned. Inappropriate, out loud groan. Now that I have my own little boy whose imagination is beyond anything I’ve ever seen in a four-year old (it really is!) well, I still groan.

And the guilt. OH the guilt! When he screeches and then shouts “Mommy spider!” and points to a spot on the floor and stares at me waiting for my reaction and for me to jump in with both feet…I just can’t do it. I try. I try to play along for a minute or two and then I either cleverly sneak away and let him go off on his own to continue the story, or I’ll distract him into something else. Hey look, Kitty! Who wants a cookie?!


I try. I try to immerse myself in his make-belief world but it’s sooooo hard for me.

Then a while ago I read this post by Kirsten Howerton at Rage Against the Mini Van and it completely summed up how I feel about play. And if a psychologist can put her guilt aside then so can I. Somewhat anyway.

I think it’s because I didn’t do much imaginary playing as a kid myself, that now I find it difficult. There are tons of theories on play and types of play and how the way you played as a child has an impact on how you learn as an adult and even influences your hobbies, activities etc. I’m definitely no expert in this area but to me, this idea makes sense. Given my preference for anything other than play, and thinking back to my childhood, it’s no wonder I have to grin and bear it.

I can remember playing house and other make belief things that seem like pretend play, but when I think of how we really played out those scenarios, it wasn’t playing at all!  I can clearly remember playing ‘office’ with friends, except we didn’t play office, we set up a pretend office. It was all about arranging your desk, putting your fancy pen in a special spot, where should your phone go?!  But we never got to role-playing/pretend play because it was all about the set up and the logical part of play. And, as an adult I sew, garden, cook all very useful and practical skills if I do say so myself! I need logic, I need practical. It’s just the way I am.

Today the boys got Easter baskets (stick with me, I have point). Except they weren’t Easter baskets they were little rectangular baskets, one white and one turquoise, that I can use after for other things. Practical. Logical. (When is too soon to snag them back?!)

I may not be good at play, or even good at faking to like it. But I kick some serious butt at other things; I can teach ABC’s, colours, reading, counting, opposites etc. like nobody’s business (one of my favorite things about parenting is teaching). I can run around and be silly. I have crafts galore and different activities that we can do together (thank you Pinterest) till the cows come home. I can organize a family, shop and cook and sometimes bake and make sure everybody is where they are supposed to be and mostly always on time too (although I should say I don’t do this all alone…love you Gordy!) I know where the red car, flashlight, and your wallet (Gord) is without even getting up off the couch.

I may lack in play skills but I think I make up for it in other ares of my kids lives. Although I’d like to think I can do all of it all the time, I know I can’t. Nobody can, and this is one thing that I have learned to let go and give myself a break over.


8 thoughts on “I hate playing

  1. I am absolutely with you. I find the pretendy type of play really difficult – it is like pulling my own teeth out. But none of us are the full package and yours sounds like it is burgeoning with useful stuff.

    • Thanks Sally:) Being a social worker strengths and ‘areas for improvement’ are constantly talked about and we get pretty good at knowing what we can and can’t do…and admitting too which is sometimes the hardest part:) Thanks for stopping by!

    • I read your post and loved it…I’m fairly certain I commented too because it’s EXACTLY what happens to me…but maybe something happened and it didn’t come through? But yes, loved your post and definitely nice to know I’m not alone too! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. As Sally says, none of us are good at everything and it sounds like you’re full to the brim of other stuff, including other types of play. I’m no good at the pretend stuff either, I am too self-conscious and honestly…it bores me, but I LOVE the craft stuff.

    Thanks for linking up to the Weekly Adoption Shout Out x

    • Thanks Vicki! By reading some of the other WASO blogs it sounds like a few of us struggle with this kind of play:) It sure does help accepting your strengths and weaknesses so you can just keep marching on and give yourself a break. Thanks for reading:)

  3. I love play but am still battling at times with some in roads to join in with PJ’s play as I said in this weeks WASO – I would love some organisation skills though hahaha x It is true – none of us have everything. we have to delegate or cheat or struggle with the rest we seem to lack.

    • Definitely don’t have everything! But knowing what you are good at doing and accepting what you aren’t good at sure is a load off ones shoulders. If we use our strengths to our advantages than it makes things much easier:) Thanks for stopping by!

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