It's not even the crack of dawn when your bedroom door cracks open. Soon a little hand is pulling yours, urging you to "get up and play." Your body is tired, but your heart can't say no. As parents, we've all been there, as Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's Instagram proves. "Working late and had only 3hrs sleep when this tornado 🌪 busts in our bedroom, jumps on me and pleads with me to get up and take her to my closet (she keeps toys in my closet) to play," he captioned a photo in which he's holding one of his daughters, 2-year-old Jasmine in his walk-in closet.
"We get there and then - surprise - she refuses to play and just wants me to hold her while she makes fart noises," he wrote, noting that he was tired but recognizes that there will come a day when his daughter doesn't want to jump into his arms anymore. "So I'll always take these moments while I can," he explains. As a dad to a 17-year-old, a toddler and a baby, Johnson knows this is true, because he's lived it with his oldest daughter, Simone. Way back in the day she was a toddler just like Jasmine is now, and while she's still close with her dad, 17 looks very different than two (as a parent, you're more likely to be waking your child, for one thing). Getting out of bed to play in the closet may not have been the ideal way for Johnson to spend his morning, but it was absolutely an ideal way to exercise Jasmine's little mind, while ensuring that she grows up to be as close to her dad as her older sister is. Plus, the American Academy of Pediatrics says our kids need to play, and not just by themselves and with other kids, but with us, too.
There is a growing body of research to suggest that moms and dads should make time to play with our little ones, because we're not just bonding over fart noises in the closet, we're helping them learn important skills, helping increase neuronal connectivity, and encouraging prosocial behavior while protecting our babies from toxic stress. Wow. Johnson says that Jasmine didn't want to play with her toys when she dragged her dad to the closet, but that doesn't mean they weren't playing. Something as silly as making fart noises can be a form of parental play known as "serve and return" (Jasmine makes a fart noise, now Daddy makes a fart noise) and can lead not only to the adorable sounds of toddler laughter, but to a stronger brain, too. He was tired but in that closet, Johnson was being an amazing father. Building a bond, a stronger brain, and an amazing memory (for both of them).

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