Since Josiah was a baby, he’s been the kid that could play content by himself for long periods of time. It’s not that we ever left him on his own, he just did fine without us having to entertain him.
As he’s gotten older he is still very much that way. He loves to play with other children, but he is just as content playing with blocks by himself in the imaginary world of his toy room. The fact that he plays like this and the fact that he’s so independent leads to days where he could pretty much function without me aside from the occasional feeding. Even then if there’s an apple or banana (or poptart) in the pantry he doesn’t even come try and find me then (don’t worry my kid is well fed and well attended to he just doesn’t think he needs me).
Some days I start to feel bad and think that maybe he’s just become accustomed to having to play by himself and I should be more involved. Before his brother came along I felt bad that I might never give him a sibling to play with and give him that lifelong companion. It’s not that Josiah is always coming and asking if we will play with him and we tell him no, it’s that he hardly ever comes and asks if we will play something with him. When he does ask 90% of the time we play with him.
I finally decided that I’d start asking him if he wanted to do things with me, thinking that maybe he thinks I won’t play with him so he doesn’t even ask (I’m a little hard on myself sometimes). So I started asking him if he wanted to come watch a movie with me instead of watching one by himself. I started asking him if he wanted to play Yahtzee (he loves that game) or some other game with me.
You know what happens when I ask? Half the time he tells me no that he’s playing or he just wants to sit and watch the movie he’s watching by himself. The other 25% of the time he says yes that he wants to play a game or watch a movie, but after about 20 minutes he wants to go back to what he was doing and doesn’t want to hang out with me anymore. Then there’s that glorious 25% of the time when his face lights up and a play/movie date with mom is exactly what he wanted.
Yesterday I spent 30 minutes playing one on one soccer in the front yard with Josiah while Samuel bounced in his seat on the sidelines. To be honest, I have no clue the next time that 25% of the time moment may pop up again. What I do know is that I will continue to ask. I will continue to ask and he will continue to tell me “no” 50% of the time, give me a few minutes about 25% of the time, and then we will have that 25% moment again when he wants my undivided attention.
Josiah loves to play with friends, his brother, and me. He also enjoys having his quiet time and time to be with himself. I think a lot of it has to do with his sensory issues because some days he needs a lot of physical stimulation and some days he doesn’t seem to need any at all but just wants to be on his own.
Just because a child wants to be alone doesn’t mean they don’t feel loved or feel lonely, sometimes it just means they enjoy that time alone and may need that time alone. I’ll let Josiah have as much time alone as he wants, but I also want him to know that I’m available when he wants some time together.