Some days this sends me over the edge. It leaves me frazzled and frustrated and tired. But most days I try to find patience, to see it from a one year old’s perspective, and embrace it as a learning experience.
We did little baby-proofing of our house and instead chose to be consistent and persistent, teaching boundaries and allowing for exploration and appropriate interactions with things around the house. Don’t get me wrong, we did our fair share of baby-proofing too. Our plugs are covered, furniture tethered, stairs gated, chemicals out of reach, and our bathroom door remains closed at all times. But I mean the little day to day things aren’t moved out of reach or bolted down.
For example: our house plant remains in the corner of our living room. And oh boy is it fun to explore, to pull and to shake. The first few days he noticed it were endless reminders to be gentle with the plant. We would demonstrate gentle with open hands, swishing the plants leaves back and forth. We would demonstrate gentle with a single finger, bouncing a single leaf. And when J would close his fists and try to pull, we would help him be gentle, remind him to be gentle, and tell him that if we can’t be gentle then we need to be all done. If he tried to pull again we would say, “all done” and leave the plant to find something else to play with. It took a few days but he quickly learned how to interact with the plant. He enjoys gently brushing and bouncing the leaves. Sometimes he will look us straight in the eye, slowly go to close his fingers around the plant while shaking his head no vigorously, and then he will stop, smile and feverishly shake the leaves back and forth with open hands.
This reaction is common in our house. He has learned that he can open and close cabinets but that pots and pans stay in them. He has learned that he can climb on the couch but not the coffee table. He has learned that he can play with the dog but that he can’t pull his tail.
Most days he does well playing with what is his, respecting the boundaries of the house, and leaving what is off limits alone. But sometimes he finds something new. Something that he’s unsure of. Something that hasn’t been taught or explored. And it is these moments that try me. They catch me off guard and demand patience. I have to remind myself that it is our choice to leave things about and it is our desire to teach him. I often find myself asking, is this unsafe or just inconvenient? Is this something that I would let him do again or is this something that needs to stop? Is it a time constraint? Can I revisit this with him when we aren’t walking out the door? Often times when I stop and think about it, it’s the inconvenience that bothers me – the thought of cleaning it up, not having enough time, or already being in the middle of a million things. But it is rarely ever a safety concern and so more often than not, we explore it.
So today we embraced alphabet soup.
He loves our game boxes. They are well within reach and we let him play with them. He loves to take them off the shelf. He loves to open and close them. He loves to put them back and do it again. Today he chose Scrabble. It’s his favorite box really. He loves to take the bag of letter tiles, drag them around the house, and listen to them shake. But today was different. Today he figured out how to untie the bag and dump the letters out.
I heard the distinct sound of tiles bouncing off the floor – lots of them. As I came around the corner I had the all too familiar internal debate. Do I let this happen? Do I have him help me clean them up and put them away? Fears of lost tiles, choking and clean up ran through my mind. This is the type of thing that sends me over the edge sometimes. That sends me scrambling to clean it up, put it away, and set a precedent that this is not something we do. But today I decided to embrace alphabet soup.
We found bowls and spoons. We filled and dumped, stirred and shook. And when we were done, he helped put them back in the bag.
How fun it can be to explore something new…but let’s just say some explorations demand more patience than others!
Here are some of our other explorations that you can judge for yourself:
“Helping” with the groceries
“Helping” with the laundry
Selfies with Mommy’s phone
Playing with EVERY toy
Exploring under the exersaucer
Finding a dog bowl at a cousin’s house
Spilled water on our bed……and a full iced coffee spilled in our dry sink and all over the floor
Here’s to exploring the world around us!