Say you’re five and a half and playing with a pirate island toy that has a pretend crocodile pit suggested on it. For pretend play that is. If you’re like Sasha you’d want to scrape the pretend part off and make it a real thing. Which is exactly what he did and thus pour water in places that could not hold it. The toy was not intended for water play, so it leaked all over the living room. Even with all the careful preparations he put into it. Frustration and tears ensued. That’s elegantly put. And then he said “You know, Mom, adults only think about themselves when they’re designing toys, they don’t think about the kids. They don’t. ”
Puzzled? Yeah, to say the least. Cornered. that too. What could I say? All those times when I tried to suggest a cleaner, more adult version of a game were now sticking their tongues out at me like naughty kids and I felt pushed my by own adult indignity into a dreaded pile of mushy falseness.
As expected, that initiated a sequence of thoughts. How many times have I tried to deter him or his brother from doing something that seemed a bit too crazy because I wanted to take the safe exit and not have to deal with a possibly messy aftermath. How many times I did not encourage their ideas because, according to my adult standards, they were stepping out of bounds? If it was at least one time, then that’s one too many. So, change of plans. If I want them to be creative and daring like all humans were intended to be – what, you didn’t know that? – there is only one way to do it. Let them be. I’ll let them add the kid touch to games and toys and I’ll remind myself that life through kids’ lenses is a multidimensional one. Sometimes that leads to puddles and sandy patches around the house, and inconvenient as it sounds, there is always a solution to it. Kids have it, they become helpful and willing to clean or fix the results of their potentially messy but oh-so-exciting endeavors. It comes from the satisfaction of having played fully.
Come to think of it, the best memories the boys and I have are from those times when we rolled with crazy ideas and made them into creatures that danced and tumbled and made the world around all silly with colors and laughter. I can never remember the things people say about my kids when they’re all proper, but I’ll always remember this total stranger walking up to us one early March day at the river when the boys were swimming in mud and having the time of their lives and saying “I wish I had a camera to take a photo of your boys and show my wife how kids are supposed to play…”
Now, back to the pirate island toy. Maybe if Sasha would put mud instead of water in that pit then the leaking problem would be fixed. Worth a try, right?