Sprout has plenty of toys. Now, he doesn’t have as many as some kids, but there are plenty to hold his attention. But despite that fact, some of the things he likes to play with the most aren’t toys at all. Some of them seem pretty boring to me, but then I’m not a toddler.
Blankets and napkins: Sprout has embraced the great joys of peek-a-boo. Before, he just enjoyed watching us disappear. Now, he finds it hysterical to hide himself behind a blanket or napkin. He’s very aware there’s a performative aspect that he’s in control of. The photos from Disney that he’s smiling the most in are the ones where he’s peeking out from a napkin. Cloth napkins are also very good for random waving around at restaurants.
The remote controls: Of course. Unlike a lot of parents, we let him play with the remotes if we forgetfully leave them on the couch. We used to believe this was harmless, until he bought Sherman and Mr. Peabody On Demand. It couldn’t even be a good movie! Now that Chris set parental standards, it’s probably harmless. As we rarely let him watch TV, he’s more interested in pushing buttons for the sake of pushing buttons, as well as the fact that one of the remotes actually lights up.
The grass and dirt: In the spring and summer, I often brought Sprout to hang out in our yard while Chris makes dinner. Even when I brought a ball to play with, Sprout usually just ignored it. Instead, he’d sit in the grass and pull it up, or pick at clumps of dirt. This happened more when he was younger, as now our front porch has more allure due to the next item on the list…
All stairs, everywhere: We are still obsessed with stairs.
Doors and gates: He loves opening and closing doors and gates. He’s not tall enough to reach doorknobs, but he’ll swing an open door back and forth over and over again. He also adores the giant metal gate at the tennis court near our playground. What’s pretty amazing is how careful he’s always been. Even when it looks like he’s about to close his hand in the door, he draws his fingers or the door back just enough to avoid it. Occasionally, he’ll use his palm to close it all of the way, shutting us out of his room. We then knock on his door and say, “Can we come in?” Even though he has zero sense of privacy yet, it’s still good to model those respectful habits. Plus, he finds it hysterical when we ask. We have a fifteen-month-old going on fifteen years old.
The doorstop: Before having a child, I never thought about doorstops. They’re so low to the ground that adults hardly see them. But they’re at just the right height if you’re a baby. Sprout has spent an absurd amount of time batting at his doorstop, listening and watching it sproing back into place. He found it even more entertaining when he was crawling, as he’s getting a little tall now to reach it comfortably. But every now and then, he’ll stop, sit down next to it and start to flick at it, remembering, “Oh yeah, this is awesome!”
Chris and I: His mommy and daddy are finally starting to become his playmates, as in someone who actually plays with you. But a long time, he treated us much more like things to be played with – like really big toys. He scales us like we’re climbing structures, twirls my hair, and previously nibbled on our fingers (although we discouraged that). He still gives us raspberries on our stomachs that make the most realistic and hysterical farting noises. But better to be a whoopee cushion than a chew toy.