The Grandparent Files: Playtime Alonetime

Sometimes, I just don’t know whether my mother-in-law says things for the sake of saying them, or she is genuinely surprised by aspects of parenting which I see as common sense.

For example, this morning BabyBoy and BabyGirl were happily playing in the living room. BabyBoy was making cars (and other objects) roll down a mini-racetrack. BabyGirl was moving beads around the bead maze. They were absorbed in their play, and I could sit back on the sofa checking email and sipping on a cup of coffee.

Grandma, on the other hand, seemed at a loss, because no-one was yelping for attention. Neither child needed adult interference at that point – they were working things out on their own. In fact, I believe that adult interference then would have frustrated learning rather than promoted it. You see, I think of ‘play’ as the 18-month-old equivalent of ‘work’. And sometimes, even young kids need space to try things on their own.

So Grandma turns to me with surprised look on her face and says ‘they are such busy children’. Er, yes? Most children are, given half the chance. Amazingly, they don’t need you, or anyone else, breathing down their necks all the time. (Thank goodness, or how would Multimummy get anything done?)

I reckon my MIL would be the definition of a ‘helicopter (grand)parent’ if I’d let her. And I believe my kids would be worse off for it.

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