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July 30, 2008


Parisienne Mais Presque

Wow, this is perfect food for thought for me right now.

Le Petit is very one and very into everything. I've been struggling with how best to introduce him to this big, scary, beautiful world, and wondering what mix of vigilance, limits-setting and permissiveness to adopt.

He loves books, but does that mean I should let him clear an entire bookshelf onto the floor? Do I let him grab pot lids off the shelf and march around the place clashing his impromptu cymbals? When am I being overprotective, when am I being indulgent, and when am I just being grumpy and type-A? It is so hard to figure it all out.

I think your points about impoverishment/enrichment are very useful. It seems to me that the same could be applied to interactive play. I hear so many moms worrying about whether or not they are good at getting down on the floor with their small children, and I guess I'm no exception. I suspect, however, that there is a balance to strike there, too, because standing back and letting them play independently creates the sort of enrichment-through-impoverishment that you describe. It's all in the balance.

I remember you mentioning once (on Moxie, I think?) that down-on-the-floor moms are sometimes just moms that "get" the developmental stage their children are at. That makes sense to me, because as much as I love chasing le Petit around the apartment or making drums sets out of kitchen utensils, I had a hard time with the crawl/grab object/chew object/throw object stage.

Alas, it is a bit difficult to create an environment that is anything less that -- ahem -- over-enriched in a 600 square foot Parisian apartment with two adults, a baby, a floor loom and over a thousand books. But his spacial reasoning skills will be highly advanced for his age, I'm sure. :)

Maria Wood

The impoverishment is by FAR my biggest challenge with this. A childhood of feeling deprived (even if I really wasn't; haven't clearly teased the reality out of my perception yet) has left me reluctant to set any limits on P's toys/books/space. Not to mention my own clutter.

I'd love to hear more about how to work this; by now there's big resistance from P if I suggest putting stuff away.


@Maria Wood, I'll try to incorporate that into the next one - because resistance to impoverishment is actually an age-typical thing for certain ages, it has to be done still within the Safe Respectful Kind framework... which means it takes time, gentleness, and a lot of patience, if they're not used to 'how it functions' (we have less resistance with the younger ones even at the same age as they already know how the system works and to what degree it is under their power - which is a lot, really). It takes time to get them to trust that away doesn't mean lost, gone, exiled, etc., especially as we (US parents, anyway) tend to use 'take away/throw out/hide/etc.' as prime threats (loss of ownership and control of object are used to create a power imbalance that requires them to comply - so first we have to create a sense that owned is owned, for what things, to what degree, how safe is this, how eternal is this, etc.)

So, um, yeah, more to talk about! Ownership and the Work Process are two big deals for toddlers - and again, everyone - too.


Sigh. We have a can't see the forest for the trees situation with toys/books at our house. On my to-do list is to weed out stuff that is broken or no longer age appropriate, put some stuff away, take some stuff out where it can be used.

La, at age 2-5 had an overflow of baby equipment. It was like a toy version of the baby room at daycare had taken over our living room. DH's solution was to put all but a few things in the garage, and when La wanted to get something else out, she had to put one thing in the garage for later. Worked surprisingly well - She got to pick what was being traded.

Oh, and for babyproofing cupboards, most of ours have baby-locks, except the ones with pots and pans. If we had a tupperware cupboard down low, we would have left that open too. (The others had cleaners and toxic or sharp stuff.)

Looking at this from a little kid and big kid perspective, it's making me think of architectural solutions for big kid problems. It's the same kind of exploring your environment, testing your independance problem, only it's on a bigger scale. The 14 year old at our house just got a bike and a cell phone. I think he's loving the autonomy that it's providing. We're still working out the poor judgement kinks of not being where you said you'd be and then not answering your phone, but it's early yet.


This reminds me of your presentation about Montessori in the house.

Just this past weekend, we bought little steps to put in front of the sink in toddler's bathroom. I insisted over hubby's concerns, pulling out the ideas from the Montessori home presentation that he looked at too. The Pumpkin has been loving washing her hands, but is frustrated with the angles I had to hold her to get her hands in the sink. I thought a lot about the Montessori home ideas, and thought that steps for my great climber would be perfect.

They are perfect. She loves the steps and the ability to wash her hands herself.

Honestly, I think hubby was more worried about the space they would take up than how well the Pumpkin would do with them. But it provides her some control over her environment and gives her steps of her own to climb, which she loves.

I love the idea of postcard-sized works of art at her level. I am going to work on that this weekend.

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