The Beginning of The End of Anarchy
On my way from the kitchen to the playroom yesterday, I almost didn't notice what might have appeared, to the untrained eye, to be a random assortment of crap piled on the upturned chair we leave on the stairs to keep our incontinent dog out of the carpeted part of the house, but what closer inspection would reveal to be an intricate arrangement of unlikely elements that formed a delicate art installation: a Disney princess hand mirror, a slice of wooden pizza, a rubber ball with a liquid center that when shaken stirs up swirls of glitter, half of a hollow plastic Easter egg, a purple crayon, shredded bits of multicolored Play-Doh, and a 4"x6" flyer for Soak City.
I knew that it was in fact half a morning's work for one of my not-quite-three-year-old twin girls, not only because I had been, while trying to get everything in order for the girls' first day of school, half aware of her chattering away as she busily assembled the masterpiece on the third step; but also because it was one of the best examples of the 3D collage sculpture that has become her milieu. It was balanced without being symmetrical, it had a pleasant mix of textures and densities, and the colors were complimentary without being matchy-matchy.
The other twin is more into drawing. She draws large-scale portraits of "hippos" on the chalk board. If you saw them, you might think "lion" or "pig" or "human." You would be wrong: according to her, they are all hippos. Sometimes they have long hair with bows in it, dozens of legs or cilia or whiskers on the perimeter of their round faces, long skinny arms or puffy sleeves, umbrellas, shoes, dresses, and often expressions of horror.
The girls have dozens--scores--of play sets with pieces that are meant to interact with one another in some way. Baby dolls and strollers. Memory game cards. Little people and their stuff that go in the tasteful German doll house. A tiny kitchen full of toy pots, pans, and food. Candyland.
But they rarely play with their toys in the ways the child models on the box do. Baby dolls go in wheelbarrows, memory cards become "tickets" and go in a bucket that is a purse. Sand from the sandbox fills the sink in the playhouse and is called "cake." Play-Doh is rolled into strips on the Candyland game board, torn into bits, packed into a saucepan, and also called "cake."
I tried to play Candyland with the girls according to the instructions one time, but it only caused frustration on everyone's part. Since then, I've encouraged them to use their toys however they want, as long as they aren't endangering each other, me, or the dog.
This morning, just a few hours ago, I drove away from the kids' new preschool in an underpopulated minivan. It was probably the first time I've ever taken them somewhere and then left without them.
I had stayed with them through "circle time" and breakfast, which the school provides. They burrowed into me the whole time, barely allowing their feet to touch the floor, much less sitting on the carpet or tiny dining chairs. They drank a little milk, ate a few spoonfuls of cereal, and half-heartedly participated, with much prodding, in the communal depositing of dirty dishes into the appropriate bins. They didn't show any interest in prying themselves away from me until the toys came out.
I left them for just a few minutes to take care of administrative stuff and drop off some materials I had brought from home. They were playing with LEGOs, in the LEGO area, on the LEGO base that was affixed to a wooden platform.
When I finally left for good, the aides were setting up jars of paint, brushes, and sheets of paper on the long tables where all the kids dutifully took their seats. My girls also sat, picked up their paint brushes, and awaited further instruction. If they noticed me slipping out the door, they didn't give any indication.