Monday, August 17, 2015

It All Makes Sense

"Three-year-olds learn primarily through exploring, using all the senses." So says the "Child Development Tracker, "a feature on the PBSparents web page. I may have already suspected that, but I know it for sure after spending twenty-five straight, mostly one-on-one, hours with Beenie the last couple days. With Pa-pa working basically sun-up to sundown at our state fair this week, Beenie was just what I needed to add some fun and excitement to these long days at home by myself.

Just look at that face. Doesn't it just cry out with enthusiasm for exploring? Indeed, the two of us had a glorious time together, with no sense left undeveloped (and some of them working overtime). Here is a rundown of our adventures for the perusal of all you child development specialists:

Certainly we deserve high marks in the tactile category. Those ten little Lego people (most of them wearing helmets--go figure) sitting side by side on the block bench we created took some serious hand-eye coordination, small motor skills, and downright manual dexterity. Add to this a couple hours in the pool both days, and you have a field day for your sensory receptors.

Accompanying us to the pool were three plastic dinosaurs--twin brontosauruses Tex and Rex (who is surprised?) and Max, who, just to complicate things, is a T-Rex. The dinosaurs were quite happy to bob around for our entertainment, until, due to minuscule, invisible holes in their anatomy, they took on water and sank. This required a deep-sea fishing expedition, after which considerable squeezing was required to rid them of excess water, leading naturally to a spirited discussion, complete with demonstration, of the potty habits of prehistoric creatures.

In our drier moments, Beenie and I moved on to develop the senses of taste and smell, which took the form of a huge bowl of popcorn the first day and a box of donuts (with chocolate icing) the next morning. To accompany our popcorn ("Can you get your own bowl, Googie?"), Beenie picked a movie from my sizable collection and we settled with our blankets into a huge recliner big enough for the two of us to sit side by side.

I would not have expected the movie he picked--Baby Mozart--but it offered us thirty minutes of utter nostalgia and serenity with its parade of colorful baby toys against the backdrop of lively, upbeat Mozart music. A VHS videotape we played together every afternoon Beenie stayed with me during his first year, it has not lost its appeal for him despite its intent to target younger children. Given his choice, Beenie asked for "Baby Ein-a-stein," and in that we got our fill of visual and auditory delight--supplemented, of course, by the books we snuggled up together to read at naptime.

Beenie's favorite of my storybooks, at the moment, are  Margaret Wise Brown's Goodnight Moon (which he calls "Fireplace" because of the cover picture), Jane Miller's Farm Alphabet Book, Roger Priddy's Happy Baby Colors, and Mary Murphy's I Like It When . . . ."  His CD of choice for car travel is Barney's House, and with that, we are back to where we started with Barney's close relatives Rex, Tex, and Max the T-Rex.

So, yeah, PBS people, the three-year-old-year is truly sensory in nature for both little boys and their Googies. He might be exploring for the purpose of learning, but I just get to revel in the sensory delights that are mine alone. I get to enjoy the warm snuggles, that cute little voice--and that rare moment when I actually get to have a bite of my own popcorn.

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