ఏనుగమ్మ యేనుగు! (Elephant!)
from Rajeev, Nanna to almost 3-year old Charan in California
My son is almost 3 years old now and for him the most exciting thing to do is be able to replicate whatever his mom or I do. So instead of trying get through our daily chores as quickly as we can by doing it ourselves we try to find a way to integrate him into the activity in a way that makes sense to him, even if it takes a little longer to do. And that turns into a play routine for us.
For example when I am vacuum cleaning my house, he is my partner in picking up stuff from the floor and putting it in appropriate places. It’s a lot of fun for him because when we are picking up stuff we have a routine where we say “నాన్న ఒకటి, చరణ్ ఒకటి” (meaning dad picks up one – Charan picks up one). By doing that he sees how I am doing the cleanup and he repeats it. In his mind he’s able to do what his dad is doing. So he gets super excited. Sometimes we try to count things while we are picking up stuff, or identify the items with their names and its phonetics etc. He likes pretending the cleaning game with the real vacuum cleaner too (with it unplugged of course). I let him have his way. We just make sure that the vacuum cleaner is itself clean all the time (it’s probably one item that is always sparkling clean in our house. 🙂 )
When we go shopping he’ll be helping me put the vegetables / fruits etc into the covers. I give him the vegetable and hold the bag for him and his task is to carefully put it into the bag that I am holding and ask me if we need more. Our most favorite part of shopping is walking through the aisles and identifying the numbers, letters, colors, shapes that we find around us. We also try to go through our shopping list (which he would have helped put together in the house) to see what else is needed. This is an exciting part too for him because he’s the one who tell me which way to go in the grocery store to find the item we are looking for. Shopping this way takes a more time than if I just breezed through the store myself, but we wouldn’t want to miss our play routine.
We do a lot of regular playing too. Some of the old time games like “ఏనుగమ్మ యేనుగు” (Where dad is the elephant he rides on) and “ఉప్పమ్మ ఉప్పు ” (“salt” – where he gets to be my back luggage) are still some of our favorites. Sometimes we create our own improvised versions of hide and seek games where either I am a tiger trying to catch him or the hiding part is actually done by his teddy bears and he gets to find them. We also like drawing our stories on our black board (these days it’s been more of paper and colors pens). Some of those stories are our own cooked up stories using his favorite things (like fire trucks, trash trucks, mountains etc) and some are just good old stories from books. Sometimes we paint on computer too using MS paint or create our story characters using paper and scissors. Off late throwing and catching ball has been our favorite. During the summer months, playing in the park in the evenings was our favorites. Since it gets dark quickly during this time of the year, we now get to do all the jumping and running around in our living room instead.
As far as toys are concerned, We try to do our best to make sure that the toys are not plastic and don’t need batteries. My son *loooves* cars and planes. He has both wooden and plastic cars and planes but the advantage with liking cars and planes is that practically anything that he can pick up will do the job. Pencils, pens, phones, blocks everything is a car or plane for him. If nothing’s available, I see him using his hand as his plane. It’s a riot to see him play like that.
Just like most other kids he too gets bored with a particular routine as he grows out of it. But the trick that has worked so far for us is to see what kind of things are capturing his interest / imagination and weave a routine around them. We’ll have to see how long we will be able to effectively engage his interest.