Very Tricky, Alfie Atkins by Gunilla Bergstrom
Rating: 4 stars
I like this Alfie Atkins character. He wants his father to play with him, but his father is busy reading the paper. Seizing the opportunity of a distracted parent, his request to play with his father's tool box is granted. But not the saw! That's dangerous. So Alfie builds (with the other not-so-dangerous tools) a box around himself, and pretends he can't get out.
He tells his father: hand me the saw and I can get myself out, or come rescue me. His father MUST now put down his paper and play with him, much to his son's delight.
I don't know how this book ended up in our library bag--the beloved Grammy was along for the pre-vacation library trip (we checked out 47 books), but it definitely strikes a chord in me. Years ago, I added yet another very random, unhelpful in any career whatsoever, totally paid nothing job. And had a blast. I was the head wrangler at a summer camp in Nowheresville, Washington. I was in charge of a dozen horses, one other person (a gal who showed up in heels from Australia) and the whole little riding program, which didn't account to much.
On the first day of camp after they jumped from their parents still-moving vehicles onto the campgrounds and had their heads checked for lice, the kids were thrown into different groups to play together before they settled in for dinner. My job was always to play soccer with about half of the kids. Together with a Peter Pan-like guy from Australia who is probably still immature in a super endearing way, we played with the kids.
That's it. We just played with them. We were in charge, sure, but...hardly. It was such a lesson for me--put things aside, and just join in. It was a great way to start the week, and I definitely apply that invaluable lesson everyday here at my home. Just today Ben walked in to the kitchen while I was fixing Kiefer's lunch and asked: "Will you be a firefighter with me, Mommy?"
Suddenly the steam from the chicken was a fire, and we pretended that some random spatula was a hose and we were putting the fire out. When that was no longer exciting, I asked him to teach me what to do if I was on fire, and they thought it was pretty funny watching me stop, drop, and roll.
Really I was just stop, dropping, and playing, of course.
But the book talks about fathers playing with their kids, and that's a whole other thing. My husband is so tired and exhausted and stressed that when the kids do finally convince him to play they are beyond delighted. It's what their faces would look like if we ever were nice enough to take them to Disneyworld. It's sad for me to watch, because they are so fun and his intentions I think are good, but... Pretty soon they'll be more into their friends than me and him, so, I'll be stop, dropping, and playing as much as I can in the next few years. And forcing others around me to do the same!
All that other stuff can wait.