Mousey is nearly eleven months old now. She has never stepped on grass, nor has seen birds fly, nor insects crawl, hop, hide or fly. She has not sat outside for any length of time, to watch the shift and play of light, the effect of the breeze or wind on the lawn, the leaves on a tree or the moving clouds overhead. Whenever she goes outside she rides backward in her carseat and sees a fast moving world as she is driven about from home to run shopping errands with her mother.
She has piles of stuffed animals, toys appropriate for her age, but they are all plush and plastic. What she is most curious about is Snowy, the family cat, and she is forever on the lookout for opportunity to be near this ghostly white creature, to touch it and watch it. She has learned that the cat has a will of its own and will not tolerate her awkward ministrations.
She now has a toy cell phone. It has a musical ring tone and flashes lights much like a real cell phone when it is activated by a call. Does a nearly eleven month old baby need a toy cell phone? I think she needs to go outside frequently and feel the grass under her feet and hands, experience the moving air flowing over her skin and through her hair, listen to the complex soundscape surrounding her, and see the interplay between the natural and built environment in which she will grow.
I know I am getting old and am expressing my wonder and, yes, my dismay with the fact that she has been born into a much more complex world, in which opportunity abounds, and yet in which so have limitations increased. Many of the toys available to her, while providing an illusion of richness of experience, in fact prevent full engagement and don’t provide the occasions for developing discernment.