Many nights after supper, I take down the box of cars that I first wrote about in this post from the living room shelf to let Philip play. He loves to take the box from me, hold it up high in the air and let the cars clatter loudly onto the floor.
I will let Philip play with them in the dining room while I either wash dishes, do other cleaning or just take some time to relax. Yet, as I wrote about in this post, we’ve been advised not to allow Philip to play alone for extended periods of time. So, I will join him on the floor and “vroom, vroom” the cars, trying to model how to the roll the cars around in a more functional form of play.
As you can see from these pictures, if left to his own devices, Philip won’t play with the cars functionally. Instead, he will arrange them in patterns, some of which I find quite interesting. For some reason, he will often take one car of each color, line them up on the table and then play with the rest on the floor.
About a week after we started this new ritual, I was sitting at my desk when Philip came over, grabbed my hand and led me to the dining room. He pushed my hand to the empty box. I opened it up and began to sing the clean-up song. He cried, but he put those cars in the box. He then pushed me over the shelf, crying the entire time, to make sure that I put the box away.
This has repeated several times. Sometimes he doesn’t cry, or else he waits to cry when I’m putting the box away. Sometimes he throws the cars, frustrated to hear that he is “all done” and has to pick the toys up. To distract him the one evening, I named the colors of the cars as he put them in the box. This seemed to help. On another evening, there was a car not from this set on the floor. He picked it up, looked at it and put it to the side. He knew that it didn’t belong in this box.
Last night, he actually laughed as we picked up the cars together. In fact, having just put the last one in, I stood up and the one end of the box gave out sending the cars crashing onto the floor. Philip helped me pick them all up again without complaint.