Years ago a girlfriend taught me the phrase “curious not furious.” I didn’t need that phrase. Yet! But it stuck with me and I am glad!
She said it helped her catch herself dealing with her very busy very curious son. The idea was that looking under manhole covers, taking things apart, and climbing up to see things were all ways her son was exploring, experimenting, and she wanted to try to share his curiosity rather than reacting in all the ways that busy moms do — you know, when your kid finds a way to pull off a manhole cover. I have tried out the phrase — more than once! And this time I took pictures.
Thing 2 loves bead ironing, and we were painstakingly picking colors (me) and putting those tiny beads on their grid to make a design that we would iron so it’d stick together. She’s very curious AND she’s all about input — craves lots and lots of sensory input. So we were feeling them, talking about how one is hard, but a bowlful are actually soft and nice. We put our hands in the big container and imagined we were small ad could climb in there. Then I got coffee.
When I returned she was standing, with that big container poised over her head. Ready to pour. I had a visceral reaction of horror. But we had the whole day ahead of us, and ‘curious not furious’ popped up to take over. I smiled and said “I don’t mind as long as you clean up after.” “Uh, really?” “Sure, as long as you sweep up the beads.”
She did it.
It didn’t last as long as she wanted, but she got to feel them, hear them pinging off the floor, and watch them bounce into every blessed nook and cranny.
Clean-up was more than either of us expected. With lots of coaxing (some of it very stern!) and in the end help from mom we got it cleaned up. I was very proud of myself! Until she did it again the minute we gave up cleaning! Ha ha.
Try ‘curious not furious’ and see what you and your kid can learn.
Other posts on sensory play include: Here, Feel This Fruit