It's Not My Job To Entertain My Kids

by Joelle Wisler
GeorgeRudy / iStock

When I became a mother, I acquired many jobs. I didn’t train for any of them. I’ve had to learn on the fly as we go through the motions. Some are awesome, like Cuddle Management and Memory Keeper. But many of them are not that pleasant, and some of them are the worst jobs you’ve ever heard of, like Barf Catcher and Butt Inspector. I’m just lucky that my kids don’t know anything different, or they would probably fire me for insubordination.

I’m mediocre at being a Chef, but I’m unexpectedly good at working as a Hair Stylist — though my clients cry a lot. I should get some gold medals for my search-and-rescue efforts, but I’m lousy at getting anywhere on time as a Chauffeur.

Out of all of these jobs that I acquired, however, not one of them is Entertainer. I mean, of course I can read a kids’ book with some legit accents and shake my ass during our family’s ’80s dance-o-rama. And those things are probably pretty hilarious to witness. But it’s not my job to be my kids’ constant source of entertainment. I’m just not that good of a faker.

And I have no desire to learn this skill.

Because I would have to to be constantly faking it if I tried to be that available to them all the time. I can do a puzzle with my 5-year-old for about 30 excruciating minutes before I want to throw the whole thing in the garbage. I can pretend to be a baby kitty for maybe 20 seconds before I’m so bored, my kitty character is just trying to take a constant nap.

I’ll take my kids for a hike, yes, any time. But no, I cannot be a part of their elaborate game of trolls and wizards the entire time we hike because I guess I’m not that good at pretending. And also because I constantly go off-script and that is frowned upon by the directors, and they get very mad.

I’m the mom who will load up bikes and sandwiches and go do something.

I will help them build the fort, but I really don’t want to play in it, thanks.

I will get the Play-Doh ingredients out and say, go for it, use all the kitchen stuff you want, but please don’t involve me.

I will bring home refrigerator-sized cardboard boxes and give them markers, but I’m not going to be building that rocket ship for them.

I will give them a yard and open the door for them and tell them they have to stay outside until lunchtime. I will give them all of the space and time and materials in the world, but I probably won’t demonstrate what they need to do with those things. It’s their job to figure it out.

I believe in boredom with all of my heart and soul because that’s when the magic steps in and starts whispering to them. It sometimes whispers really great things about making diamond tiaras out of toilet paper tubes. It also sometimes whispers things about hanging off the side of the deck, but I guess cause-and-effect is an important lesson to learn as well.

If my kids are always looking to me to be their only source of fun and magic, they won’t learn to create their own. I would be really sad if I had never learned to create my own fun. It would be cruel of me to take those experiences away from them. It would be cruel of me to not let them find the value in boredom, so I won’t do it.

I’m the mom who will always be more concerned about how my kids are going to live in the world as adults. How the life they are living now will shape what kind of people they will become. I want them to be enjoyable to be around, the creative little weirdos who come up will all the ideas that everyone else says are impossible. The ones who push the envelope, challenge the norm, and feel confident sharing their creative ideas.

So, no, with all the jobs I’ve been given as a mother, I won’t be their entertainment as well. But Futures Analyst? I’m trying my hardest with that one.