We've had a really difficult time with Elliot for the past several months. Sibling issues combined with him generally "being three" has been really challenging for all of us. (My husband and I swear that if people were born at three, the human race would die out) We try to work with him saying things like-- "if you don't wake your sister, I can play with you," but clearly logic is not the driving force with him at this age.
Its easy to connect with newborns, who are all cute and lovely, rolls of fat and smiles, who can resist? Lucie kept me up for a good part of last night scooting around the bed and blowing raspberries, and I still wake up, see her smiling face, and am completely enamored with her. Connection with older children requires more effort.
I often struggle with what to do with Elliot during our days at home. I love to make crafts, bake, read him books, things like that, but he'd be forever content pushing fire trucks around the floor, which bores the heck out of me. After tears in the pediatrician's office this week (mine), our fabulous doctor recommended a few books for me. I started reading one of them yesterday, and using some of the ideas in it, transformed our morning.
I gathered the supplies this morning to make a firehouse out of an old milk carton. Together we collaborated. Me-- "Is this where you would like the windows?" "What would you like the signs to say?" Him-- "I cut it myself." We had great fun, and he played happily and creatively while I made our lunch. He has a beautiful wooden firehouse 15 feet from this one that has never seen such creative play. Something about the act of designing this one ourselves made it "the biggest firehouse in the whole world," and "in New York City."
Sometimes I guess, to connect, we just have to meet them where they feel the safest...in play.
Recommended reading: Playful Parenting by Lawrence J. Cohen, Ph.D.