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Sunday, 25 March 2001

Why Are They Just Sitting There?

Written by  Sherri Mandell

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Eugene and Bonnie are the parents of two kids, Katie, eight and Randy, 13. Eugene owns parking lots, Bonnie works as a prep chef in a local cafe. It's Saturday afternoon. The kids are lazing around and Eugene wishes his kids were out playing and were more active, more like he was as a kid.

Eugene: Why isn't she out in the fresh air more? She always sits there playing with those hats and scarves.

Bonnie: Those are her dress up clothes. I love to watch her play. She talks to herself, she pretends to be all sorts of characters.

Eugene: All the toys we buy her -- and all she wants to do is play with those scarves.

Bonnie: She pretends that she's an old woman. Or she's a teacher. She puts together a whole class.

Eugene: It's not normal. She should be out playing with other kids

Bonnie: Don't label her. Nobody is normal.

Eugene (teasing): I am.

Bonnie (teasing, a bit sarcastic): Yeah, you're normal. Pretending to have your own baseball team, now that's normal. Being on the computer all night, trading players... C'mon.

Eugene: Well, why can't Randy read something different? He reads the same books over and over. I want to grab him by the hair and send him outside to play baseball or basketball, anything but sitting in that room and reading.

Bonnie: Anybody would be happy to have that complaint about a kid. Do you know how lucky we are?

Eugene: You know what Randy told me? He likes being in the past or the future. Why can't he be happy in the present?

Bonnie: He can. But he likes daydreaming. Because anything can happen there.

Eugene: They're like you. Sometimes you sit on that porch for hours, daydreaming.

Bonnie: So. It's not so bad. You like me.

Eugene: But I didn't know I was going to get a whole house full of you.

Bonnie: You're lucky.

Eugene: You don't know how it hurts me to see them like this. I spent my whole childhood out in the fields, playing ball, going to the pool, having a great time. I want to see them with friends.

Bonnie: They're not that type of kid. They like to be alone. I was the same way. You can't change people.

Eugene: Can't we sign Katie up for some activities?

Bonnie: She already paints and puts on plays all by herself. What more do you want from her?

Eugene: Something where she's with other kids.

Bonnie: She tried ballet. She didn't like having to be somewhere after school. She's tired.

Eugene: Why is she so tired?

I think school takes a lot out of her. Having to concentrate. She needs to escape after that.

Can't you make play dates for her?

Bonnie: Honey you have to accept her for who she is. She's an introspective dreamy kid. She likes being alone. Don't try to change her. God, my parents tried. They wanted me to be happy and popular. It only made me spend more time in my room.

Eugene: They don't have to be popular. I just want them to connect with other people.

Then connect with them. With where they are, with what they think about, with who they are. Don't try to make them be like you.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 05 April 2011 15:07
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Sherri Mandell

Sherri Mandell

Sherri Mandell has a Master's degree in Creative Writing and has taught writing at the University of Maryland and Penn State University. She is the author of the book Writers of the Holocaust. She has written articles for the Washington Post. She is married with four children

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