Parallel Play: A Novel

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Much to her surprise, Eve finds herself living in Brooklyn, married to a doctor named Harvey, and toting a young infant named Ann. How did she get here?

6 Types of Play Important to Your Child's Development

And where is that maternal instinct that was supposed to have kicked in by now? From winter afternoons spent freezing at the Tot Spot to playgroups where she inadvertently tells the other mothers that Ann was an accident, Eve struggles to embrace motherhood and the yuppie accoutrements of her new life. And when her ex-boyfriend her gorgeous, toned, aloof ex-boyfriend Mark reappears, Eve is thrown for a loop.

Torn between the free-spirited Manhattanite she once was and the Snugli-wearing, baby-hoisting, stay-at-home body she now finds herself inhabiting, Eve realizes she must choose between the past and the present, lust and love, childhood and adulthood.

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Smart, dark, daring fare. Eve is fumbling, flawed, funny, and——above all—utterly human. Tom Rayfiel has dared to tell it like it is in this triumphant novel. As Eve wanders through the first months of motherhood, her observations are hilarious, eerie, and unforgettable. This is a must-read for lovers of smart fiction and flummoxed mothers. He lives in Brooklyn. Was the advice of female friends and family members a crucial factor in conceiving the book?

Thomas Rayfiel: My research consisted of caring for two screaming babies who are now delightful children. To wall them off or suppress them is to deny who we are. Q: Eve often seems to loathe motherhood and to lack a loving bond with her baby daughter. Is the downside of motherhood a taboo you were keen to address?

When she finally does, I would argue her love is deep and true and real. It is earned. Do you read a lot while you are writing? Do you have any anxieties of influence?

TR: My main inspiration when I sit down to work is the last sentence I wrote the day before, to figure out where it came from and so to see where the next one is going. Of course, getting that very first sentence, the one containing the DNA for all that follows, is the tough part. But if you mean which writers have inspired me over the years, there are so many: Aldous Huxley, Georges Simenon, Thomas Bernhard, and Robert Pinget, to name a few.

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Understanding Parallel Play And What It Means For Your Toddler

Writers who make you feel you are holding not a book but the steering wheel of a runaway car. Reading is a great part of my life and yes, I read books while I write.


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TR: Yes: the dawning realization that women have been sold a bill of goods about motherhood, assured they will instantly fall in love with their newborn child and their newfound lot. I noted it not to be so and, speaking to mothers, saw the feeling was widespread: the sharp and funny minds of former lawyers, editors, and artists pretending they were just as content earnestly debating the pros and cons of various brands of disposable diapers or mushed-up carrots. Q: Did you set out to investigate the possibilities and illusions of free will with this book?


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  • The Importance Of Parallel Play.

TR: I do think parenthood makes you realize that many of the so-called choices offered to you are not really choices at all. Every move you make is either conforming or reacting to some external or internal expectation. Sure, I could lean a little from side to side and maybe influence where I went, to the right a few feet or to the left, give it my own personal style, but basically my future was already decided. Q: The fact that Eve is known by a single, scripturally resonant name could signal her as an elemental or archetypal woman.

1. Unoccupied play

Did you intend Eve to be a symbol as well as a fully rounded character? TR: Honestly? I just liked the name. I also liked the associations of her always being "on the eve" of something, teetering on some brink. Q: Eve can be selfish and insensitive.

The Importance Of Parallel Play

Is there a thrill for you in dancing on the thin line between humanizing a deeply flawed character and creating an unlikable heroine? What she is, because of her outsider upbringing, is more coldly honest and critical about her own shortcomings. Her take on things is bracingly honest and, I hope, funny. Which of these books, if any, have you read and liked?

There Are 6 Types of Childhood Play—How Many Does Your Kid Engage In?

Do you hope that this book will appeal to a similar audience? But those are great writers. I do think looking at ordinary situations in a slightly crazy way—which is what I sense chick-lit novels do as well—can lead to a deeper insight than plodding, earnest, emotional explorations, however well-intended.

So in that sense our audiences might overlap, yes. The earliest and most rudimentary indication of play is the social smile, which occurs at about 4 to 6 weeks of age. By 3 months, play progresses to regular smiling and cooing when a baby is face-to-face with a person. Play at this stage is repetitive and often ranges in intensity according to how the baby responds to the game.

During this age, pretend play is initiated with the imitation of ordinary activities like pretending to eat or imitating caregivers. Between the ages of 1 and 2, imaginative or pretend play replaces sensorimotor play. Pretend play extends to symbolic play, which is the use of one object for another.

Symbolic play can be a vehicle for relief from reality. Play takes form in solitary play, parallel play, and social play. Solitary play is a child playing independently with no outside interaction. Playing alongside another child, both intent on similar objects of the play without direct interaction is known as parallel play.

If you were to look in on a room full of toddlers, several of them might be at the same playing station, each consumed in their task without actively engaging the children around them. They may enjoy doing the same thing in parallel, but they do not show evidence of sharing the same fantasy. These peer interactions begin the foundation of prosocial skills with others. As children coordinate their actions in response to another child and share feelings, they become aware that other children have thoughts and feelings.

For example, if a child falls from the monkey bars, another child may cry to an adult.


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  7. The observant child is now aware that the other child is hurting and needs assistance. At this time, peer play involves sharing uninhibited by possessiveness as the child prizes socializing over autonomy. However, as the autonomous self develops between ages 2 to 3, sharing declines. Before, the goal was to socialize by sharing a toy; now the goal is to possess the toy by competing for it. Although some parents scold or discipline their children for not sharing, this is an important period as a toddler develops an autonomous sense of self.

    Sharing, if modeled by caregivers, will eventually develop over time. On a Sunday morning, he drops his family at the door of their church, then disrobes in the car and walks down the aisle of the church with no clothes on. This adventure leads to his being pressured into seeing a psychiatrist. He makes an appointment and begins seeing a medical student who is doing a psychiatric rotation. George and Harvey, the student therapist, both beginners, engage in psychotherapy; they also become friends.

    George also decides to learn to play polo, not knowing that Harvey's grandfather is a former polo player. There are zany characters in the story, including Harvey's supervisor; a man who kidnaps George's wife, Marjorie; and a womanizing polo player who convinces Marjorie to visit his television office in New York, where she is kidnapped.

    Meanwhile, Harvey has made a relationship with a young model, Moravia, whose mother is the daughter of one of Sigmund Freud's famous patients and whose father is an eccentric who befriends Harvey's grandfather Cassius, an aging attorney who takes a liking to George and hires him into his law firm. As the story moves through the activities of the foregoing characters, it alludes to both the productive and nonproductive aspects of modern psychiatry and its place in contemporary culture.