"Mom, will you be my friend?"

“Mom, will you be my friend?”

I looked away from what I was doing and down at my daughter, nearly four years old.  She was holding her Belle tea set in her hands and looking up at me hopefully.

“I am your friend, sweetie.”  I told her.

“But Mom, you aren’t playing with me.  Will you be my friend?

How many times are we in the middle of something and when our children try to get our attention, we wave them off?  Tell them to go play.  Suggest they find a sibling.  Go read a book.  Watch a show.  None of these are bad suggestions in and of themselves.  But how often do we stop and give them our full attention?  For myself, I know I could improve.  Sometimes I get so concerned with multi-tasking and checking things off my list, that I don’t notice what my kids are doing until they are getting into something they aren’t supposed to.  And then what’s my knee-jerk reaction?  To tell them to stop.  Stop arguing, fighting, annoying each other, etc.

“Mom, will you be my friend?”

And what about the times when I do go and play with them?  Is my attention still divided between what needs doing, or checking Facebook, rather than getting involved with my kids?  I hate to admit it, but probably at least 50 percent of the time I’m playing with my kids I have my cell phone in hand or nearby.  Is there any phone call, text or post that is more important than taking a little time out of my day to be their friend?  See life through their eyes?

“Mom, will you be my friend?”

What am I teaching my daughter and my son when I ignore their requests–to play with them, draw a picture, have a tea party, make Play-Doh food, run around in the yard, jump on the trampoline–in favor of something else that doesn’t have to be done right that minute?  I don’t mean that I feel the need to stop what I’m doing every time my kids want me to play because, let’s face it, I really wouldn’t get anything done and there’s value in having them learn to play with each other or entertain themselves for a while.  But when they do ask, I need to ask myself: “How long has it been since I connected with my child?  A couple hours?  Five minutes ago?”

“Mom, will you be my friend?” 

My daughter was asking me for a little bit of my undivided attention in the best way she knew how.  And I could either keep doing whatever I was doing at the moment, or stop and play with her for a little while.  Thinking back, I have no clue what I was doing anyway.  I might have been on the computer or doing dishes or laundry.  It doesn’t really matter.  What mattered in that moment was how I decided to respond to my daughter’s request: I decided to be her friend.

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