Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Sense of Order

At 18 months old, my daughter is at the age where she is fascinated by how things fit together. We were out to breakfast the other day and she got fidgety, so I gave her the little Lego tiger that I keep in my purse for such moments. She held it in her hand for a few seconds, then looked around the table, grabbed an empty juice glass, and carefully dropped the tiger in. The glass was just the right size for the tiger, so she reached in, pulled it out, and dropped it back in again. This went on for several minutes. She then found an empty plastic cream container, fitted it on the tiger’s head, and announced, “Hat.” Hat on, hat off, hat on, hat off. By the time she was done, so were we.

As I am writing this, she is sitting with a bunch of cardboard coffee cups, carefully and deliberately stacking them inside each other. And when they’re all in a stack, she just as carefully and deliberately takes them apart and starts all over again.
Even at such a young age, she has a very distinct sense of order. She likes when things fit inside each other, or stack together. She likes to sort toys into the right boxes. She likes to put all her books into a stack.
There isn’t much in her life that she has control over. Her father and I decide what she’ll wear, when she’ll go to sleep, and what and when she’ll eat. We bundle her in her coat and put her in the car when she’d rather stay home and play. We wake her up and take her out of the car when she wants to stay napping. We take away things she wants to play with (like scissors and rolls of stamps and the toilet) and give her things she doesn’t (like actual toys). But she can create order and control by putting things where they fit and where they belong.
I only hope her sense of order will last through her teenage years.

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