How ironic is it that sometimes I have to look up how to play? Isn’t that just an intrinsic pleasure that we’re all supposed to know how to take part in? But once you become a parent, it’s difficult to feign interest in certain things again like dollies, fake tools and tiny racecars. I’ve always loved making forts and playing with building blocks, but thinking about new activities stumps me sometimes. Isn’t that just wrong, that we lose that sense of playfulness in our adulthood? And that we can actually lose our pleasure for it?
I took the kiddos, my son and nephew, to the library recently and found a book that lists 200 activities for children. As I perused the pages, my sense of wonder was aroused. How could I have forgotten sidewalk chalk and skipping rope (for purposes other than cardio benefits) and beachcombing and flower pressing?Remember those parachute things in gym class? Everyone holds a piece, fans it in the air, then lifts it up and sits under it? I want that excitement again!
A few nights earlier, one of our copies of Scooby Doo did the “babysitting” (you know we have to do this once in awhile) while I occupied myself with dishes and other menial tasks of adulthood. I was pondering adulthood, particularly parenthood, and how the extracurricular could become curricular again. How could it be that I needed to research this? I also had to look up the lyrics to some of those old musical favorites like Hush Little Baby. What the heck comes after that diamond ring momma was gonna buy anyway? I remember mom telling us about how dad used to sing us to sleep by Silent Night because that was the only song he could think of. And sometimes I’m at a loss too. After hearing myself sing Twinkle Twinkle for the 820th time, I need me some new material.
I started with fingerplays. I printed off a pattern for felt finger puppets and found a book with fingerplays in it. Since I vowed to train my brain to toddler level activity, I now find myself devising little children’s story plots and painting primary-colored illustrations in my head.
Here’s a little fingerplay you can enjoy with your baby or toddler. It’s a touchy-feely game that keeps them guessing, plays with rhythm and rhyme, introduces them to a few body parts and types of touch. Completely hands-on, no material required. Just wiggle your fingers in front of them and do what the lyrics say:
These 10 fingers they tap tap tap. These 10 fingers they snap snap snap. These 10 fingers they clap clap clap. These 10 fingers they fold in your lap.
These 10 fingers they squeeze squeeze squeeze. These 10 fingers they tease, tease, tease. These 10 fingers they tap your knees. These 10 fingers they freeze!
These 10 fingers they tickle your toes. These 10 fingers they open and close. These 10 fingers they touch your nose. These 10 fingers they put on your clothes.