You know that vicious cycle of toy accumulation where you buy some toy that looks fascinating, and you expect it to preoccupy your child for hours, and instead they go immediately for your remote/cellphone/broom/wrench rather than play with their exclusive, child-safe toy?
I call that the early glimmers of discernment. I think toddlers are starting to understand what is real, and what isn’t. And before imaginative play kicks in, to give them something that is only an imitation of the real thing, may be disrespecting their intellect.
This past month Knox has started getting very upset, clinging to my legs and screaming whenever I go make something in the kitchen or work on something at the table. Then, last week, he mastered climbing on chairs, and now will do so as often as he can, then stands there and squeals in satisfaction. When I forcefully take him off the chair, he protests and bawls. He wants to climb on the table, he wants to get his hands in my things, some of which are either fragile, or dangerous.
Today while I was preparing dinner, he started bawling at me and trying to climb the kitchen cabinet. I put him on the sofa facing the kitchen table, where he has a good record of standing safely. And showed him my pouring and mixing things. He immediately calmed down and watched me for a while, before asking to participate.
It reminds me of what happened a few days ago. Two of my friends came over to make dinner, Knox was, as usual, climbing on things and bawling when we tried to take him off them. So they spontaneously decided to let him join them. This is what happened:
It was a small task that slowed us down , but made Knox so happy. He stayed and “worked” the entire while, putting the picked bean sprouts in the other bowl, until there wasn’t a single bean sprout left in the bowl. We had to show him the empty bowl so he knew the task was finished!
It is stuff like this that helps me understand what he really wants (to help!), and to slow down and be more thoughtful, like my friends were. I am so blessed to meet such good people.