I've often remarked here how well Little Smith plays on his own. It's a common occurrence for him to spend the better part of an hour building elaborate block and train track constructions. Occasionally he will ramble to himself or boss around his sister during the process, but mostly he just works through it in silence. There are certainly many (far too many!) moments where he is needy, wants to chat, whine, and demand that I meet his every need, but nearly every day does also include some down time, where he is busy and engaged with his own projects.
When we learned our second baby was going to be a girl, everyone warned me that she would not have this skill of independent play. Girls are social creatures, and they demand much more attention, seems to be the common wisdom. So far baby Roo is definitely more social than her brother, certainly more willful, and probably more demanding. She is still very young, so who knows... but for now, she does seem pretty darn good at occupying herself , at least for short intervals. She will build little block towers alongside her brother, letting them fall and then working to stand them up again, she will rock her dolls and throw them into a little cradle before scooping them back in her arms, she'll totally pull books off the shelves and unwind a roll of toilet paper. For a one plus year old, she is decent at keeping busy.
There was a moment last weekend when I looked around our tiny home and realized that all four of us (five if you count the cat) were happily engaged in our own quiet activities. While we obviously love doing things together as a family, James and I have also always been happy to work on our own tasks. It's fun to share in each other's interests and projects, but I appreciate that I can have some stuff that's just for me. I've been thinking the kids might feel that way too, or maybe they just haven't reached the peak of their needy phases yet :)
Many of our hobbies involve making things, cooking, eating, or being outdoors. Sometimes we all need a little passive entertainment though, so here are a few recent favorites in that department, from each member of our household (minus that cat!).
*Baby Roo (at 15 months old):
- 'reading': Hello My Name is Ruby / A Color of His Own / Have You Heard the Nesting Bird?
- listening: A Ram Sam Sam and Open Shut Them as performed by mama ;)
- watching: the cat. seriously, somehow our cat is very entertaining.
- playing: with all things baby-doll and this pretend phone, she walks around having very intense conversations with it pressed to her ear... too much.
*Little Smith (at almost 4 yrs old):
- 'reading': Rosie Revere, Engineer / The Little Yellow Leaf / How to Train a Train
- listening: obsessively to this silliness that I occassionally sing as a joke, and finally played for him to prove it was real (am I a bad parent? don't answer that) / Mouse on a Motorcycle audiobook
- watching: Peg + Cat and Wild Kratts - as much as we try to limit screen time, he really does love his shows. he learns a lot about animals and geometric shapes from them too, but mostly I think it's just a time to relax and zone out!
- studying: Peterson Guide to Eastern Birds (he is pretty good at identifying a bunch- I'm impressed!) / this puzzle and this placemat of the states, we need to find some good world maps next.
- reading: Low Life by Luc Sante / Up In The Old Hotel by Joseph Mitchel (he's very into the history of NYC... snooze. kidding. sort of :)
- listening: NPR or KEXP, early and often
- watching: this beautiful segment from the film All.I.Can., in the wake of the recent and tragic death of the amazing JP Auclair.
- browsing: Powder (the season is approaching!), ENR, and Architectural Record
- reading: sadly, very little. I just finished re-reading Mappings (for teaching purposes). I did also just stumble upon this article on the 'default parent', which made me smile knowingly.
- listening: Hurray for the Riff Raff, St. Roch Blues ... latest obsession
- watching: just saw Boyhood (superb, as I am sure you've heard), and mostly waiting for the new season of Mad Men to buy on iTunes (TV has really lost me and it's the only show left that I still actually watch... what will I do when it's gone?!)
- streaming: (I love podcasts, less investment than an audiobook and the perfect pastime for a stroll or car ride. It's my version of TV.) Nerdist, WTF, Doug Loves Movies, and when I'm really feeling like I want to bend my mind, The Duncan Trusell Family Hour
I'm always eager to add to my list and hear favorite books, music, movies, shows, and podcasts from others, if you care to share!