I can’t be the only one who hates playing dolls with their child

‘I’d rather spend an evening locked in a cell with Nigel Farage debating Brexit than 
play dolls with my daughter’
‘I’d rather spend an evening locked in a cell with Nigel Farage debating Brexit than play dolls with my daughter’ Credit: ISABELLE MAROGER

Kneeling on the floor while being shouted at by a tiny ‘director’ for not play-acting correctly – Bryony’s over it

I love my daughter very much, more than anything else in the world, in fact, so much so that sometimes I think my heart might burst and the universe might implode with the force of the love I feel for her. But. Well. How do I even start to say this? I shall have to try. OK. Here goes: it is a matter of great shame to me that, despite all of these things about my love for her being true, I would rather spend an evening locked in a cell with Nigel Farage debating Brexit than play dolls with her.

Is this awful? Yes. Yes it is. I know it in my very bones. I know that when she asks me if I will play with her I should be overjoyed and full of gratitude. I know that I should be cherishing this time with her. But instead I am counting it down, willing her to suggest that instead we do some arts and crafts or go for a walk or play a board game or anything, actually, other than acting out some elaborate storyline with her LOL Dolls and Sylvanian Families.

Her favourite thing is to play schools. She is the teacher and I am one of her pupils, alongside said LOL Dolls and Sylvanian Families. We are all laid out in neat lines in front of her, me trying not to squash my classmates.

My daughter is both star and director of this production, which means she veers between being bossy and, er, being very bossy. ‘Pretend you need the loo’; ‘pretend you are being naughty’; ‘pretend you have just burped and farted’; ‘pretend your nose is bleeding’, and so on and so on, a never-ending set of bizarre instructions that at least give me an insight into what it must be like in her actual classroom. 

It’s the very rigid direction that does it for me. There’s no opportunity for me to improvise or do it my way. It’s like finding yourself working for a mini Martin Scorsese, complete with wild instructions about getting into character and visualising scenarios, and if you have the audacity to get it wrong, to not quite fit mini Martin Scorsese’s view… well, woe betide anyone who makes that particular mistake. ‘NO! YOU HAVE MADE THE WRONG FARTING SOUND! YOU HAVE RUINED THE WHOLE GAME NOW! I’M NEVER HIRING YOU AGAIN!’ Except, sadly, she is, because there’s nobody else around to indulge her Hollywood sensibilities.

Honestly, I’m too old for this. Like, 33 years too old. It’s one of the few downsides of having an only child. Sometimes, when I’m sitting on the floor being shouted at for not interacting properly with a stuffed toy, I think about having another kid just so she will have someone her own size to play with. But it’s too late now. The age gap would be too big, and I’d end up having to do it all again with the second child when he or she got to school age. And not wanting to play dolls with my existing child is not a reason to have another child. In fact, it’s a pretty good indication that I’m not up to the parenting job and should think about auditioning for some other role. 

Still, perhaps I should thank my beloved mini Martin Scorsese for giving me my time to shine at all. For as any parent-actor worth their salt knows, the only thing worse than your child wanting to play dolls with you is your child not wanting to play dolls with you. 

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