Playing With the Older Kids

A pair of older kids have formed an unlikely group for T to play with after school.

Four weeks ago, our end of day routine became one hour of play at the playground next to his day camp, which is now his after school program.

It’s a nice playground and even big enough for me to comfortably play in with T too.

The first week of school is now in the history books. It is so nice to be able to pick T up right after I log off work at 5.

I used to get home from work after 6 and it was the hubby who did pick up. But working from home has changed our routines.

Picking T up and playing with him before dinner means that T gets to wind down at home afterwards and then we start his bedtime routine early. It’s been so great and hope it stays this way.

T and I met the older kids A & D four weeks ago.

After camp pickup, T wanted to stay and play in the playground.

A and D, 12 and 10, came to play and T did his usual circling them trying to get their attention. And they were nice enough to let him play tag with them.

I liked that they played hard and didn’t pretend to be slow like me. They gave T a real workout. T started crying at one point cuz he said “I don’t like being It!”

Then T got thirsty and I told him there was a water bottle in the car. I was hoping to use that as an excuse to head home. But T wanted to come back and play and I didn’t have the heart to stop the nice moment he was having.

When I came back with T, the two kids were waiting and asked if I had water bottles for them. I was like, “No and you shouldn’t take water bottles from strangers!”

“How old are you?” A asked.

“I’m gonna be 40 next year.”

“You’re the same age as my mom,” A said. Then started telling me he’s getting braces and then showed me his teeth. Then he asked me if I ever got into fights with kids at my age and if I took karate to defend myself.

I’m smiling uncomfortably and awkwardly and thinking to myself, “Jesus Christ, just play with my kid. I don’t need to know your life story!”

All jokes aside, what two nice kids to spend their time playing with a small kid. T came home with his hair sweaty and messy, his face flushed pink and a content smile. He even finished two servings of his dinner!

Since that first meeting, we see them often at the playground.

They like to play tag and this game called grounders, which I have no idea how to play.

It’s very interesting to see the dynamics and the personalities at play.

A & D, and a few other kids who come and go, often get very frustrated with T because T is not good at reciprocating.

T always asks them to chase him. But when they tag him, T would either say that they didn’t tag him, that they missed or that they cheated.

A would get frustrated and come to me to vent. “This is so stupid. He is being very annoying,” he’d tell me. D was often more understanding.

Sometimes, T would then stop chasing them and go off into his own world.

I try not to interfere because it’s important for T to learn social interactions on his own. But I would yell from time to time to give T a gentle reminder to go chase the kids.

“Show them how fast and strong you are,” I’d say with a little encouragement.

It’s also interesting to see how the dynamics change when other kids come around. One time a group of girls, whom I assumed were their classmates, came to play. Then T suddenly became invisible to A & D. Ditto when a group of even older kids came.

Such is life and the societal pecking order for a little 5 year old!

At the end of this recent school week, D was cycling by the after school program when I went to pick up T. He waited for T to come out of the school.

D told me that he was doing school virtually and I got the sense that he felt lonely – being an only child. And yes, I know these things because these kids tell me their life story. I don’t ask!

T and D played tag and chase for a good hour.

Four weeks since they started playing together, I see more willingness from T – with a healthy dose of whining – to do the chasing too and not just to be chased.

And for a kid who was half D’s age, he gave the older kid a good run for his money!

Then T asked me if D could come to our house to play. Then I told him that I don’t think D’s parents would like me doing that without asking them!

Note: The older anonymous child pictured with T at the top is not related to this post. He’s the son of a good friend from a recent get together. This photo was used for illustration purposes only. 🙂

18 thoughts on “Playing With the Older Kids

  1. Sounds like he is getting better with his socializing, that is awesome. Kudos to you for not interfering and letting him learn how to figure things out with other kids. I think I would have had a hard time doing that.

    1. Thanks Diane. The social piece gives me such anxiety as a parent and it’s hard to see when he struggles with it. But it’s all part of growing up, I guess. 🙂

    1. Thank you! I feel thankful for these kids’ presence. It helps add meaningful (and safe) interaction to T’s day. And I hope your son is hanging in there with virtual learning too. He must be close to finishing his first month now right? Time flies!

  2. Working from home certainly has changed many of our routines. It’s funny to hear that games that I used to play (like grounders) are still being played by kids today. Glad T found some new friends to play with.

    1. Thank you! I’m gonna have to look up grounders and its rules so I don’t feel like a Luddite with these little ones. 🙂

      Since I have your attention, which are your favourite fall hikes that are near Toronto? We’re looking for a few to do over the next few weekends. So far we’ve got Ferris liked up. Rouge Park is very nearby and always a nice treat too.

      1. I really like Mono Cliffs Provincial Park. There is a viewing platform at the top of Cliff Top Trail that provides really nice views of the valley below. Crawford Lake Conservation Area, Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area, and Awenda Provincial Park would be really nice in the fall too. I’m hoping to go to Ferris this fall as well since you mentioned it in one of your posts.

      2. Thanks! I remember Mono Cliffs from grade school trips. We’ve been to Awenda twice and it’s lovely. The others not yet. Will have to look into it!

  3. That is awesome that T has found some new playmates! I often find that the older kids or the younger kids get along better with Declan. Over the summer and even yesterday at the playground, it has been the younger group that he has connected with the most. He towers over these children, but mentally, they seem to be on the same wavelength. But like you, I am happy to see him playing with someone. And that does sound like a nice routine! After leaving the playground yesterday, I am thinking where I can slide in playground playtime so D can be around other kids again and for him to run around. Well, I hope you guys have another great week of play, school, work and routine!

    1. Thanks Robyn! I seem to notice T likes to play with the older kids and that he is also very affectionate and gentle with the younger kids.

      I hope you find the time you’re looking for to sneak in playground time for Declan. It’s so good for them but I can also see how it’ll be more challenging for you cuz you have three kids to juggle! Good luck.

      And our second week has started and coffee still hasn’t hit me yet. Soon! Good luck with yours. You are almost done your first month. Crazy.

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