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Teenagers and Special Time
Teenagers still like PlayTime (this is one-on-one time set aside
to give the child your full attention; join them in what what
they want to do; put aside work, dinner and other siblings; and
show up with a little more enthusiasm than usual), though it may
look different than PlayTime with younger children. It might
mean having us patiently watch them try on seventeen pairs of
shoes at the mall, especially if that's something we would
ordinarily refuse to do. Or it might mean listening, without
interrupting, to all the reasons they should be allowed to get a
tattoo (you don't have to say yes, you just have to listen
cheerfully to all the reasons).
If your teenager thinks that PlayTime with you would be torture
(and you kind of agree!), you might try the PlayTime swap. That
is, you have an hour or two of special one-on-one time with your
friend's teenager, while she has special time with yours.
Parents of younger children can do this PlayTime swap too--it helps
kids get a chance to do things that really bug their parents,
but might not bother another adult. My my daughter Emma was one
and a half, she had some special time with our friend Kris. When
I came home, Emma was sitting on the counter completely covered
in soup, wearing the biggest smile on her face I had ever seen.
I never thought of myself as a neat-freak, but I never would
have tolerated letting her pour a bowl of soup over her head. A
couple of years later I was having PlayTime with Kris's son,
Eli, who was three at the time. He saw a plastic shark at the
edge of the bathtime, and decided he wanted to play with the
shark--in the tub. If it had been my own child, I probably would
have said, "It isn't bathtime now," but how could I resist Eli's
logical reasoning that a great new bath toy meant it was time
for a fun bathtime?