As a work-part-time-from-home-mom, I am so blessed to be able to regularly leave Gavin with someone I trust, so I can have some quiet, focused time to help my clients. (So blessed!) After the hustle of breakfast, morning play, cleaning up, getting dressed and then getting him out the door, I usually inhale, exhale and then miss him a ton. Maybe that's why I don't mind seeing a toy or two on the floor as I walk to my desk. No matter how well we clean up -- and he is usually good at it -- a toy or book always seems to make it out of its spot as I'm loading the car or refilling his cup or doing another last minute thing. Now, my husband feels completely differently about this. Josh would be putting that book in its spot, putting the toy out of sight and then opening his laptop. I am usually like that, too. In fact, I have invested research and cash in getting those primary-colored playthings out of sight as much as possible. But, I don't know...when I'm about to start an eight hour stretch of me, my computer and my own thoughts (which can get a little scary from time to time), a little sign of life, a reminder of his silly antics brings a smile to my face. On my good days, those reminders also create a sense of urgency, like: If you want to be able to have more distraction-free playtime with your sweetie, you better buckle down and get your stuff done!
But I'll tell you another reason that -- for the last six months -- I've loved to see those toys out. Because before that he was not interested. Now, I tend to be kind of "by the book" in unfamiliar territory. Get me comfortable and I may start making up my own rules, but until then, tell me how it is supposed to work and for how long and to what degree. I drove our families crazy as I developed sleep schedules for Gavin. I drove Josh crazy as I obsessed about them. And then, when something didn't work I drove myself crazy. When it came to toys, I had a similar, albeit much less intense, experience. I was confused as to why he didn't want to play with toys. The babies in the ads looked so happy and engaged. When he did play with them, he didn't really do it the way the toys were designed. The rings didn't go on the pole. He just banged them together. I was convinced he'd be going to kinder and just banging toys together in every center. I would go in search of toys to interest him for naught. Me to Josh: "But honey, the box says 12 months and up, and he doesn't care a thing about it. He doesn't even look at it long enough to see what it does." Josh: "I think that means they won't kill themselves on it at 12 months. It's not a guarantee they'll play with it."
Recently, as I was looking back and pondering this phenomenon, I told Josh how happy I am that Gavin is playing with toys now. "You know," I said, "because all he wanted to do until he turned two was go outside, read
books, put cars down ramps and run around the house with us." Josh laughed and said I sounded ridiculous. "You know those are some of the healthiest things that kids can do, right?" Yes, of course he is right. I wouldn't have traded those activities for blocks, bears and pianos--not in a million years--but between the playtime paradigms in my head and the desire for balance (and a little variety!!!), I kept one eye out for the perfect toy to capture his attention.
This general disinterest in most toys continued for months and months. Among others, my friend Cate had the same experience. Her theory (which I fully buy into) is that when they are infants they see us using a spatula, using a hairbrush, using a rag, whatever. None of those things are multicolored with bells. As babies, their number one interest is in us--our faces, our warmth, our voices. Second to that: our stuff.
Now that Gavin is playing with many different kinds of toys, it's funny to look back at my perceptions and conclusions. I'm thrilled that he still loves going outside, reading and chasing with us. But I have to admit, a little balance is nice.