Recently, the guilty complex about not doing ‘quite right’ with my eldest has manifested itself in new endeavours to engage him in any kind of play that does not involve a vehicle of some kind. At least, I tell myself the story that I want to widen his horizons when perhaps it is more about that guilty monster telling me I have been a lazy mother. Anyhow, reading other mummy blogs has, rather than making me feel worse, inspired me by giving me concrete ideas for stay at home play. Not being very creative myself, I have been so grateful for this world of ideas sharing that has opened up to me and will try to attribute where I can!
Monday saw a friend coming over to play and I had prepared 3 things: clay with various instruments and textures to explore mark making; cloud dough with shells and driftwood; and coloured ice cubes with sparkles (following on from Valentines fun with heart-shaped red ice cubes). I didn’t have them out all at once, but introduced them when interest began to wane. Toby and his friend largely ignored the clay until they realised that the pizza slice-like cutter with a zigzag patttern made marks that resembled train tracks…enter the first vehicle. Embracing the whole child-led thing, I encouraged Toby when he duly trotted off to get his train to chuff chuff along the clay tracks. That lasted 5 minutes (his friend spent much longer exploring different marks…as I had intended).
Then Toby wasn’t interested at all in the wonderful stuff that is flour and baby oil (and sparkles!)…his friend got stuck in. When I started making sandcastles, Toby recognised this game and, clutching Thomas and Gordon, came over to knock them down. Both boys then followed each other’s lead by knocking down the sand castles with their trains…still the vehicles.
In between all of these activities, Toby had been squirelling himself away with the fire engine that his friend had brought and I started to wonder whether this little boy uses his vehicles as a normalising feature. As in he knows where he is with something that moves on four wheels (or 6 or 8 if Thomas and friends are included…and they should be included). Interestingly, when the ice came out, he became much more engaged as he had done this before. He took a lead in showing his friend how to use the net to catch the cubes and to my delight, talked about them ‘melting’. We discussed the colour change and the temperature. Then he lost interest again and went back to the fire engine. His friend indulged for a further 40 minutes or so with play that involved a crocodile in the water and flying to the moon!
I will continue with this. It’s not that I want to remove his trains and cars and trucks, I just want him to be able to explore the world around him and enjoy doing so.
Tonight, I put out the cloud dough, ‘sand’, again (on my newly acquired Tuff spot tray….thanks Jennie @Edspire for the idea) and added to it his Scoop, Muck and Dizzy (from Bob the Builder if you are a better Mummy and don’t watch such things with your children!). This had the desired effect and he spent quite a while scooping and tipping the sand.
Perhaps vehicles will be the way into several things…watch this space!