Friday, November 04, 2011

Parallel Play

When Rachel is sick she is much more mellow than when she's healthy. She's more content to cuddle—though she's never been much of a snuggler—and will even lie on her bed, by herself, listening to primary music, or whatever. She speaks softly and kindly and plays gently with her sister. I'd think it was wonderful if I didn't know it was because she was feeling so awful.

Late this morning/early in the afternoon (it was a lazy kind of day) Miriam and I were downstairs playing with the toys and Rachel was upstairs resting in her bed. She came down and joined our game. I relinquished my side of the house to Rachel and retired to my crocheting, happy to watch my girls actually getting along.

Miriam is at the height of parallel play right now so isn't very interactive, but she does set up her house and make her little people do things like go to bed or eat dinner or use the potty. Rachel's games are a little more involved—she needs a storyline and person-to-person connection—but she quietly played alongside Miriam for quite a long time.

And then her tylenol kicked in. I could tell the moment it had because she started to get a little feisty again and her play became less gentle and more commanding. 

"Miriam, let's close the house because it's nighttime—put your people to bed now and we'll close the house."


"Miriam, I'm going to ring the doorbell and then you answer the door. Ding-dong! Now open the door. Open the door, Meme! Open the door!"


Eventually she shouted, "If you can't play the game right then I don't want to play with you at all! You can't use the house! I was here first! It's mine!"

"Rachel," I interjected, "You weren't here first. Miriam was here first and she kindly gave up half the house for you when you came downstairs."

That only made Rachel angrier. So I got out the fire station and suggested that one of the girls set up house there, going so far as to mention that since Rachel had taken over Miriam's space that she should be the one to move out. When I said that, though, it got Miriam thinking that she wanted it—she couldn't stand to let Rachel have the new toy.

"No! Me wants a fire-tation! It's mine new house!" she squealed.

When she said that, Rachel's eyes flashed with envy but I told her to settle down and keep the old house that she had wanted badly enough that she threatened to evict her own sister. Then I made Rachel give Miriam all the furniture Miriam had been using on her side of the house. And then they proceeded to set up house on opposite ends of the room from each other. 


Rachel was happy to have the house so she could set things up properly—with a nursery and a kitchen and a living room. Miriam was perfectly happy with the fire station so she could set up house out of the box—with sleeping quarters on the roof, for example.

And then they played happily, in parallel fashion, for quite some time. Rachel's growing out of parallel play—as you can tell by the way she demands interaction—but I suppose if it frustrates her enough that Miriam won't interact that she enforces parallel play then I guess it keeps them both happy. Rachel thinks she's in control and is "punishing" her sister by banishing her to the other end of the room and yet Miriam thinks they're playing just the right way. Close, but not too close. Similar, and yet completely uninvolved.

It's perfect. For now.

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