We have friends who have outfitted their homes with hundreds of dollars worth of toys, often putting a second mortgage on their SUV’s to pay for it all. These kids have computer game systems, electronic robots and battery-powered cars. In fact, some of those cars cost more than the first couple vehicles I drove. It’s pretty crazy.
As for Jonah, he has not been exposed to that many toys. We are not too interested in giving him a bunch of toys that he’ll lose interest in within about 30 seconds of receiving it. (translation: our apartment is not big enough for a battery-operated car). Also, we truly believe that Jonah will be better off in the long run if he can find and discover his own fun around the house. (translation: we can’t afford a robot).
Thus, Jonah has spent his eleventh month motoring around, finding fun where he can get it. I usually try to scatter toys throughout the living room in a vain attempt to occupy him, but he has found that universal source of fun: the cabinets.
Our kitchen is that very-small-galley-type kitchen that many old apartments maintain. Thus, we have cabinets on both sides of our bowling alley kitchen space. For us, it’s a convenient place to prepare meals and to store kitchen utensils, pots and pans. For Jonah, it is Toys R Us.
He goes into the kitchen, looking for cabinets to open and drawers to denude. He first began playing where we keep the pots and pans, so we weren’t too concerned about safety.
We were concerned, however, about our hearing. There are many people who talk about the “cuteness” of children playing in the pots and pans, ignoring the toys bought for them. While we looked forward to this stereotypical time, we didn’t consider the annoying habit Jonah may develop: banging the pots together. By the time we discovered that we hated his love for the pots and pans cabinet (time elapsed: 3.5 seconds) he had developed an eternal love for pots and pans only.
Thus, the toys we now owned were no longer desirable. In fact, Jonah quit liking any toy that didn’t either make a ton of noise or have Teflon on it.
We had to act fast. We have learned that much of our lives of parents is made up of correcting and diverting attention. If “no” doesn’t work, then we move to “hey, check this out.” Since we didn’t want him to play in the pots and pans, we figured we’d better divert him to something else. Eventually, Jonah fell in love with the drawers.
We had two drawers from which he could choose. The first contained cheese graters, thermonuclear devices, melon ballers, ninja stars, garlic presses, hand guns, and metal spatulas. The second contained more kid-friendly stuff like wooden spoons, plastic scrapers, and other nice items sold by The Pampered Chef.
Guess which drawer Jonah liked? Yep. Within seconds of discovering the more dangerous drawer, he had a cheese grater in one hand and a ninja star in the other. We were both mortified and hopeful that one day he might be able to successfully throw a ninja star. (The dream of all caring and concerned parents: expert use of ninja stars).
Anyway, we tried to dissuade him from playing in “the dangerous drawer” with the non-dangerous toys from The Pampered Chef. That was a no-go. Obviously, Jonah is not going to become a chef, pampered or not.
Jonah likes to put things on his head. Unfortunately, that includes pots and pans as well as thermonuclear devices. Thus, we decided action had to be taken when we saw that Jonah tried to put the cheese grater on his head. The poor little guy almost scalped himself.
After a short discussion, Sunday decided to remove all dangerous items from the “dangerous” drawer. Thus, we no longer had at our fingertips ninja stars or melon ballers. We had to live our lives without the future hope of balling melons. How brutal.
Jonah, however, had other ideas about the drawers and he attacked the newly-formed drawers with alacrity, noting the lack of dangerous material. After a week of not having any clean cooking utensils from The Pampered Chef, we decided to empty one drawer and fill it with Jonah’s toys.
Jonah now enjoys the safer—and quieter—form of play that we have forced him to enjoy. His own toys are great. They’re no fun like the fun you can have with melon ballers and hand guns, but he has dealt with it fine.