I’ll admit it freely – I’m rough on my kids. I pick them up and throw them through the air, and watch while they land with a whump. Or I chortle merrily when I just shove them over, simply because I like to hear them shriek when they fall.
Mean dad? I think not.
A while back, we got a crash pad, which the Monster and R adore. Last fall, I “won” a bean-bag from work, which honestly is the size of a loveseat, and it’s taken up residence in our living room for lack of another space to put it. These two are the Monster’s favorite toys in the entire house.
And it’s not just that it fulfills his need for sensory input – I’ve yet, mind you, to see something that he asks for as often as he asks to be thrown/shoved/dropped on either of the two. It’s that he’s genuinely happy when we’re doing it to him. He’s laughing, grinning, and asking for more, which happens with almost nothing else that we try to find for him to do. Yes, he’ll play on the playground for a bit without getting into his routines about needing things to be clean, or he’s amenable enough for a few other games but this? This is what he loves, and keeps him busy.
It’s especially good on rainy days, when there’s no option for going outside and I’m not in a mood to go try to figure out if we could sneak off to the indoor play area at the mall without someone looking disapprovingly at a nearly-eight-year-old playing there.
But honestly… there is a vicarious thrill for me to be able to be the actor in these things. Frustrated at him for a little bit because he’s been shrieking about “CAR!” for fifteen minutes straight? Throw him on the pad. He’s growling and making his noises without explaining what’s wrong? Push him over onto the pad. He looked at his brother funny and/or is provoking him? Drop him on the pad. (Same goes for R, for the record – I’m an equal opportunity offender.) It’s more effective than actually getting upset about things that can’t be controlled and diverts him into something that’s more of a game, and gets me calmed down too without any real harm done. (It’s this or find pool noodles to beat each other silly with…)