Did I just have a miniature freak out about toy rotation?
Yes, yes I did.
I was all set to write about some of the sensory experiences I’ve arranged for Miss E lately, but I was struggling. Probably because when it comes down to it, I have no idea what I’m doing. I see something on the internet and I think, well, she might like that. But sometimes she doesn’t. Sometimes she ends up in tears because she’s sticky and we eat dinner in the bath.
The fact that I spend as much of my time as I do worrying about her play, which ought to be the most simple thing in the universe, is a sign that I do not have enough to do. Or that I’m procrastinating about the laundry.
One of the things that I think is most difficult about raising a child now versus raising a child in previous generations is how enormous our basis for comparison is, and how absolutely inundated we are with information about how important every single second we spend with our children can be. The first five years of my daughter’s life are critical for all aspects of her development. Her play should be rich and varied, her toys engaging, her environment safe and comfortable. But am I up to the challenge? I read a blog recently that just floored me with heart, and how near it was to my own (I’m begging you to read it, it’s phenomenal and liberating). Feeling like I always could have done more or better is rarely productive, and often, it’s damaging.
The thing is, I doubt she’s going to do less well in school because I used Kool-Aid packets to color her homemade yogurt finger paint instead of all-natural dyes. In fact, a taste of the non-toxic stuff from Crayola probably isn’t going to kill her, and it’s not going to jeopardize her ability to be a functional adult, either. The same goes for her playing with the same wooden blocks for ten days in a row or not having a complete set of farm animals to practice all of the animal noises. She’ll be fine.
And I’ll feel a lot better when I learn to accept that.
While I do believe children learn through play, and that it’s my responsibility to provide my daughter with an environment where she can do just that, I don’t think this means I have to turn my house upside down or spend my evenings writing infant/toddler lesson plans for one. I’m going to (try to) stop fretting about what I should be doing, and remember that I’m already doing the most important thing: being present for my daughter, and giving her as much love as her willful toddler ways will tolerate.