Monday, January 10, 2022

The Simple Joys of a Plastic Bowl

The Simple Joys of a Plastic Bowl
A lot has changed in my household over the last few months. First, I became guardian to my 10 year old tutoring student (JJ), then foster mom to his one year old brother (IK). Then, we moved to a larger apartment to accommodate us all. And, my own child shed their birth name -- an association with an abusive father that they no longer wished to have -- and chose a new name (EB). Meanwhile, the pandemic is still raging globally and most of us are still spending huge amounts of time at home. 

The one year old has been with us for almost four months now, and it's been a delight to see him grow and change. 

As anyone who has raised children can attest, sometimes the best toys are the simplest, and that's certainly true with IK! A few months ago, most toys and objects bewildered him, but as time has gone on, he's progressed and gained skills and improved motor function. And, he's definitely developed favorites among his toys -- one of which is a simple, plastic bowl. 

We live in a world that saturates children's lives with technology practically from birth, not just in the gadgets and gear new parents are told they need, but in the toys promoted to parents and children: toys that beep and chirp and talk. Toys that ask kids to push buttons and make associations before their young brains are developmentally ready. Toys that whir and buzz and honk. Toys that drive parents mad with sound in an already noisy world.

So, when IK decided that a simple, yellow, plastic bowl from IKEA was his favorite toy, I was delighted! 

A plastic bowl is a great way for a child to learn about the world around them. They can:

  • Put things in and take them out
  • Hide things under an upside down bowl and then discover them again  
  • Wear the bowl as a hat
  • Put their feet or hands (or both) in and take them out
  • Turn the bowl over and stack things on top (or try to stack things inside the bowl)
  • Bang on the bowl like it's a drum or use the bowl to bang on other things
  • Pick it up and drop it 
  • Chew on it
  • If they are walking, put things in the bowl and use it to carry objects.

And, there are probably many, many more ways a baby or toddler can use a bowl that I'm not even thinking of -- leave a comment and let me know how your kids have used bowls for play and exploration! 

This simple toy is also a great reminder for me to slow down my life, rely less on technology, and to find simpler ways of experiencing the world. Instead of spending an hour scrolling on social media or zoned out in front of TV, I could stretch and do some yoga, take a walk with EB, work on my container garden (our new apartment -- really, a townhouse -- has a HUGE patio), or simply get down on all fours and play with IK or get outside and kick a soccer ball with JJ.