Alder he has been doing a lot of crafts lately. He’s got a long attention span focusing on one activity for up to an hour with out getting wiggly. The other day we stopped in the bead store to make a present for my aunt whose birthday is coming up. I figured we would choose the beads together and then I would end up doing most of the stringing. But Alder chose the beads (once I steered him towards ones we could afford), and strung all but the last fifteen. I had to help with the clasps but it was mostly his work.
Why is it that we decided what children can and can not do because of their age? In my mind I hear myself say he is too young to do this, the beads are too small, he shouldn’t be able to sit for this long. Yet he sat on his stool for close to an hour stringing beads. As parents we have a lot of preconceived ideas about what our children’s abilities are, we see the labels on boxes saying 0-3 and think to ourselves they must know better than me. But what do they really know about my child? They list those ages because they are afraid that they might choke on some of it and sue the company. They are not thinking about the interest of the child at all.
Every child is different, but every time I look at the “age appropriate” toys for Alder I can’t imagine him enjoying them at all. The toys he loves are the ones that have no age stickers, blocks from my childhood, blankets and boxes, puppets and stuffed animals. With these he creates worlds that keep him involved for hours. What I love about these toys is that they will last for years (some of them are from my childhood 30+ years ago).
I have noticed with Alder that he gravitates towards toys that he can bring into his make believe. If a toy is too specific or too complicated it gets played with once or twice and then put aside. He returns to characters of his own making and the pieces needed to make the worlds they inhabit. I just found a copy of this book at a tag sale for 50 cents. I want to make some of these for him to give him more spaces that he can play pretend in. I know our house isn’t the best place space but he carves out little corners. It makes me happy to know that there will be more room for him when we move.
Over time I am learning how to follow Alder’s cues. I learn what he is able to do by watching and giving him the freedom to try things. When something sparks his interest I try to make room for him to explore it, not pushing it on him but making the activity or subject readily available. A few weeks ago when I was making a necklace for myself A helped out with a few beads. This past week I thought we would do the project together, but once I showed the right beads he took complete ownership of the project not letting me help until the end when he was getting tired of stringing them on but really wanted all of them on the wire.
For as many books on parenting and children that I look through truly my best teacher is Alder himself.