As the family grows and ages, the desire by kids to play with Dad diminishes as they develop their own circle of friends and immerse themselves with their own activities. As my own father used to say, that’s as it should be, and I respect that. But even as they age, they still want to find ways to play even if they reach a place where it’s not always cool to ask. While they’re becoming adults, they are still, in many ways, kids and they want to play. Frankly, there are times when I want to play as well.
While there are instances where I completely miss the signs and I’ve had to learn to look for them. Sometimes it’ll be an overt hey, do you wanna…? but it’s sometimes the unspoken actions. A kid comes in and starts physically picking and messing is an obvious note that she’s ready to play. A less obvious indicator is the older child who haunts you in your activities, hanging nearby but not actually saying that he wants to play. There have been moments when I’ve actually shifted rooms to see if the youthful spectre flits behind and if so, then it’s an unspoken invitation to play. The haunt won’t actually voice his wish but the intent will become clear and it’s up to me to put the ball into play. I regret that there have been times when I’ve been aware of the wish and I haven’t taken the opportunity to mess around.
The nature of the play might change with the season or with age, but the desire is still there as the kids come back from their forays in the world to touch base and reconnect with the folks. Be aware and take advantage of it since those days will come fewer and farther between.