One Graham's View

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

On busses, cars, dragons, and dinosaurs

I have been relishing in the role of proud daddy for some time now. I’ve been happily noting the regular advances Austin has been making as he has been getting older. I have also been putting the changes into the context of developmental stages that I learned about during my graduate studies.

Austin is just about where he should be when looking at mental development. He is at the stage of “magical thinking,” where he can use his imagination and create play from objects that aren’t as concrete as he use to need them to be.

For example, we have several of those plastic storage bins, approximately one and a half feet wide and two feet long, with a depth of about a foot and a half. He likes to get inside one of these and take in a couple of his “stuffies” (Austinese for stuffed animals). Quite often, he wants this box on my knees. While I’m sitting on the couch or in my computer desk chair, he’ll put the empty box up on my lap, then gather his stuffies, and get into the box. He’ll then announce that he has to buckle in the stuffies. He’ll then tell me that he’s driving the bus to Sonic. He will rock the box back and forth, telling me when lights are green or red, so I can make either accelerating or braking noises, whichever is appropriate. When he tells me he is at Sonic, he wants me to be the voice in the box and ask for his order. Sometimes, the Mrs. does this. He always orders the same thing, cheese sticks and a blue icee. (Can you guess what he likes to get when we actually indulge him and really go to Sonic?) No trip to Sonic is complete until you get the ticket and pay for your food. He has to get his ticket from me and hands me his money to pay for it. Of course, neither of these is real and I’m loving that he can play like this.

Then there are other times when he tells me, “Daddy, get on bus!” That’s his way of saying it is time to load up his stuffies and he is now Bus Driver Bob from the Doodlebops. (On the Disney show, whenever Bus Driver Bob appears, they sing a song called Get On The Bus.) Nothing much happens here except he loads them up, gets them situated, announces they are buckled, and he assumes the driver’s seat, grabbing the molded handle for a steering wheel. He then rocks back and forth in the box, not really doing anything else until he gets tired of this and takes his stuffies out of the box.

He also shifts gears with the box at other times, and he is “Red Car,” his name for the Lightning McQueen character from his favorite movie, Cars. When he is this character, he just wants to race, which he does while the box is sitting on my lap. He rocks the box and gives me periodic updates about the blue and green cars he has passed.

Another game he has been playing a lot lately is dragons. He is always either the red or pink dragon, Mrs. OGV is the purple dragon, and I’m the green dragon. Every now and then, he gets Boise in the action, calling him the blue dragon, but not really doing anything with him.

The red/pink dragon and green dragon always fight on the couch. He comes from one end and bounces over to the end I’m sitting on, and grabs my shirt to pull me down onto the couch. He likes to win, even if I’ve grabbed his feet and let him fall backwards onto the sofa. He will jump up and tell me that he won, then grab my shirt to pull me down, just to prove he is the winner.

While playing dragon is very physical between he and I, he knows that the purple dragon doesn’t play rough. He goes up to her with hugs and kisses. What’s up with this disparate treatment? Why does the green dragon only get the brutal treatment?

Finally, he also likes to play dinosaur. This is different from dragon. He tells me that dinosaurs fight. When he comes at me on the couch, he roars. See, this is something dragons don’t do. Then he will tell me to fight. We pummel each other softly in the chest area until he decides that one of us has won.

That winning thing is a funny thing with him. With dragon, he seems to think he has to always win. However, when we play dinosaur, he is happy to go back and forth on who wins. He even asks before he comes at me, “Daddy, who wins this time?” Being that I don’t get the purple dragon treatment, I make sure that I get my share of wins as a dinosaur!

Anyhow, that’s about it. The red dragon is off at school and this green dragon is getting sleepy. I think its time for me to drag myself back into the cave for a little nap.

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