Being at home has allowed me to witness an interesting phenomena related to child play. That phenomena is this: that parents are the key play people for their kids. Even at an age when kids have friends and are invited over to play, etc., it is still the parents with whom they get the most excited about playing.
This is noteworthy for a few reasons. First, a lot of parents underestimate the bonding that happens through play. Play is one of the primary social tools through which children learn to relate to others. Through play, they learn concepts like sharing, manners, taking turns, and being respectful of another's words. And the parent is the one who is able to shape and guide this process. Being there during these years has been, and continues to be, a true blessing.
Second, as they get older and the games change, they learn different concepts like strategy, anticipation, and a host of activity-related physical skills. Again, the parents get a front row seat in the process of laying the foundations for all of these gems and can look back and know as their child grows that they had a large part to play in getting them started off in the right direction - all through play.
I've also noticed something else, how play is done seems to vary by the gender of the adult. Dads seems to be more physical. Dads are the ones I've seen giving piggy back rides, wrestling with their kids, throwing them by their ankles onto the couch, and running through the house firing Nerf guns at scrambling screaming kids. Moms seem to choose more quiet types of activities. This, of course, is a generalization. But generalizations exist because they're true - in general, at least.
Another thing I've noticed is that kids get their second wind right before bedtime. I have no idea why. But it's usually the dads who get in trouble for "getting the kids all excited just before bed". Moms are ready to tuck the kiddos in bed and dads are chasing them with a pillow. Oh well, they may get to bed a little later than hoped but they had fun in the process and some additional bonding occurred that is important.
But, finally, one of the things I've learned is that the greatest enemy to these moments of play and of potential bonding and of memory making is time. "Daddy will you play with me?" gets missed amid checking email, or cleaning up, or talking on the phone, or whatever. I'm always mindful of that still small voice that whispers, "They won't ask very much longer".
So men, regardless of what else might be required of you, on behalf of your kids, please make time to get involved in their games - to be the game if you must, because these opportunities are just that - opportunities, and they pass by quickly. Remember, kids love T-I-M-E.