Correct me if I’m wrong. When an adult is asked to play when he’s feeling tired or busy, the first thought that comes to mind is about the amount of time it might take. Now let’s put this into more specific context. An eight-year-old boy asks his father they can play super heroes together. The father has just walked into the door from a day at the office. The first thing he wants to do is relax and maybe just get on with light conversation. Super heroes are not entirely an alien concept to most adult males, but getting right into the game at a moment’s notice requires a call for extra energy.
The immediate predicament in the father’s mind has to do with mystery of how long he is expected to play and how much energy he might have to use before experiencing further tiredness. There exists the uncertainty of what the boy himself might be expecting. How much play is going to be enough? What is the protocol for being a good father in regards to play time? How does an adult help the child build a structure for other people’s time and his own?
Behold the kitchen timer! For those who don’t spend much time in the culinary arts at home, it is a cute little device which has a marked, 60 minute dial. One of my best uses for it, is to set the timer for a desired period after I have told my son that we can play for 30 minutes. Now he has something to expect. And I don’t have to split our time together between our interaction and my preoccupation with how long this is going to last. Knowing of the prescribed time frame helps me keep from letting the feeling of impatience rule my life.