Rondel has discovered the power of tools and is accordingly deeply fascinated with anything that can be described as a tool in some sense or other. He’s unearthed a play tool set his uncle bought for him a couple Christmases ago and has been fixing everything in sight with them:
He also spent the whole afternoon on Monday, while I was at the doctor with Limerick, watching his dad (for whom I still don’t have a good blog name) fix his bike, and doing his best to help in the process with both his own tools and Daddy’s tools 🙂
I think the whole concept of things as tools is a good one for him, because it elevates his play from something trivial to something valuable, practical, and helpful – not that I think any of his play is trivial, or course, but the word “toy” does tend to give a thing or an activity a feeling of lesser importance. In using tools, he’s modeling what he sees in the world around him, and practicing in his own pretend world the skills he wants to copy from the adults around him. It’s just another type of play, like imaginative play, or pretend social play, or physical play, or musical play, and it’s neat to see him diving into different areas like that without prompting, and developing in different ways because of it.
The vocabulary of tools is also helpful for me when I’m teaching him how to use something safely, or having to take something away from him that’s not appropriate for him to use yet – like knives, scissors, markers, tweezers, and so on. Instead of having to just tell him he’s not allowed to use something, I can tell him that it is a tool with a specific purpose and a specific set of safety and use instructions 🙂 So some tools he can use almost anywhere, but others can only be used when Mommy is there, or can only be carried at a walk and held in a certain way. The instructions have a context then (the context of tools), so it’s easier for him to remember them and less likely that he’ll challenge them. It’s always nice to stumble upon little parenting hacks like that… 🙂
I wonder if this interest in tools is just a phase of life-discovery for him or if he’s going to be one of those boys who figures out how to take everything apart and rebuild it – he certainly would come by it naturally, with the mechanical sense that both my mom and my husband have! I suppose I’ll just have to wait and see.