Rusty’s Rules

My son’s love language as far as we can tell is quality time.  “Mom, will you play with me?”  “Daddy, will you build lego with me?”  “Daddy, want to join me?” (often said while he’s watching a film.)  “Mom, I’m lonely.”  “Mom, I have a question.” (his excuse to leave nap time or room time early just to be near us.)  “Want to wrestle, Daddy?”  Or the most annoying my favourite: “Mom, want to watch me play iPod?”
I started very early with him playing imaginatively.  His brain just seemed to work that way.  When all his friends were lining up their cars in a row, his had names and relationships and conversations.  He’s honestly not great at sports, he doesn’t love games, but he does LOVE any kind of “guys”.  Star Wars guys, Rescue Heroes, Pirates, etc etc etc.  And he loves to play them WITH someone.  He says he gets lonely when he plays by himself.  Now, I honestly don’t particularly love just sitting and playing guys.  My friend Lisa and I laugh about this sometimes.  Both of us would happily do many things with our kids, like bake, crafts, push them on the swing, blow bubbles, do a puzzle, read a book.  All those feel productive somehow.  But I do try to keep in mind his love language and his favourite activities and try to set aside a few minutes most days to play guys with him.
The thing is… Rusty’s got rules.  He has very specific ideas of how each play scenario should go down:

  • Which guy do you want? (this question is a lie, you do NOT have a choice, you only appear to have a choice.) The rule is you choose the less cool looking guy.
  • No, your guy is a good guy or No, your guy is now a bad guy
  • No, he can’t shoot my guy, my guy is the good guy
  • No, he can’t have that gun/sword/backpack/helmut/visor he has to have this one
  • No, your guy can’t fly
  • No, it’s not time for your guy to have a nap (he recognizes this for the ploy it is!)
  • My guy is stronger
  • My guy can’t die
  • My guy can have a lightsaber even though he’s a storm trooper, but no, yours can’t
  • He can’t be friends with him, he’s a bad guy
  • Your guy can’t ride a dinosaur
  • (insert forced guy swap here because my guy was looking cooler and more fun than his)
  • Your guy must always lose/die in a battle
  • etc
  • etc
  • etc

It’s frustrating to say the least.  I tend to just sit back quietly now and let him tell a very elaborate story about what is happening and only add the occasional idea or nod of approval.  As long as I sit there and pay attention he seems to be satisfied.  Jon however, can’t seem to get through a play session without antagonizing Rusty.  He breaks the rules.  On purpose.  He laughs at Justus’s outrageous and constantly changing rules and ignores them.  He (rightly so) wants Justus to learn to play nicely with others, allowing for differences and enjoying what that adds to play.  I used to quit playing with him when he got too demanding, but now I see how much he needs that time with us, so I try to just be there for him.
I realize I’ve made him sound obnoxious. Well, sometimes he is. He’s 3. But I have to say, his imagination is startling. He tells very intricate and detailed stories, full of twists and turns and big words. Often he seems to lose the distinction between his imaginative world and reality, which will be something we watch closely and train him to understand the difference between stories and truth. But I love his mind and imagination, it’s fascinating. He’s fascinating. And I love that he wants to share it all with us.

Just. Not. While. I’m. Making. Dinner.

So STOP asking. 😉

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  • Reply An Irish Friend ;c) April 26, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    Fascinating :cD

    My best friend over here is studying play therapy and it’s all about how kids work out real life and what goes on in their brains through play. Often times when kids are stressed, upset or traumatized play is the only way to reach them. In normal times it’s just how they express their emotions and realities and wishes and all that… it’s very complex. She loves doing case studies with different kids and is doing one with B and I am amazed at the insights. She has SOOOOO many toys at her house I am sure Rusty would think all his christmases had come at once lol

    • Reply Christa April 26, 2010 at 4:03 pm

      that’s really cool. I would love an experts insight into my kids! 🙂

  • Reply Lisa April 26, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    OK – his rules made me laugh – what a little cutie-pie. Rusty is a little sweetheart and hopefully as he grows he will rely less and less on mommy playtime. And maybe it’s time to start training the Bug to play with him… you never know, it could happen!!!!

    PS – I was waiting for a post on Rusty!

    • Reply Christa April 26, 2010 at 10:05 pm

      haha, ya I know. I’ve been a little lop-sided with my blogging, eh? He’s just EASIER. But perhaps someday soon Juno will be too! (I’ll call you tomorrow and fill you in on my latest BIG idea. You’ll laugh at me and ask me for the 100th time why I can’t start small (thus having any chance at success.).) 🙂 <3 you!

  • Reply natashia April 27, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    I love Justus’ rules! They gave me a good giggle. Kids are just so cute with how they run their world. Your kids are gorgeous!

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