Monday, December 05, 2005

Play dough breaks concentration barrier

Saturday: Imagine a house full of furniture covered in sheets, windows open to the world (and to the weather), painters swarming about in overalls and Will at work. Caroline seems unperturbed by the chaos and is discussing her favorite baby doll with the painters, trying to eat a baguette and carry three dolls at the same time. She is not letting them paint. So I pull out my secret weapon, something I’ve tucked away for just such a moment, or Christmas - the Kids Dough Factory ™.

Not exactly Play-Doh, but I have high hopes that the recipe for moulding dough is not an intricate one, and I make Caroline swear that this time she won’t eat it. Or rather, I repeat myself three times until she finally looks me straight in the eye and says “Yes Mommie, okay” which is what she says when she decides that I am not going to stop talking until she agrees to whatever it is I am saying to her.

Miraculously, she doesn’t eat the dough. Instead she sits in a chair, pulled up to the table, and plays. And plays, and two hours later is still playing. We test all the moulds that come with the kit, and make a great deal of blue pasta (spaghetti shaped and something we name star-allini). She loves having her own plastic knife to carve with, and quickly figures out how to open the dough containers with her teeth (I stop her when I can), but mostly she just wants to play pretend with the little animals we sculpt. The whale gets a blanket and takes a nap and the cat family each get their own bowl, which she fills up with some of the blue spaghetti while I make her lunch. Sandwich in hand, she keeps playing.

Finally, I crack. This much concentration has worn me out and I call for a nap. It’s a chancy affair, what with the wind blowing through the house and the painters listening to Elvis on the radio, but I pop Caroline onto the sofa in my office, the one room free of painters and still heated, and start singing. Lullaby after lullaby, and my eyes are closing but Caroline is still wide-eyed. Even “Stay Awake, Don’t Close your Eyes” from Mary Poppins doesn’t work for more than the time it takes me to sing it.

The painters leave and we are back with the dough factory, fashioning winter coats for the cats who C says are chilly, and who are noticeably drying out to become a flakier version of the silky smooth green and yellow cats we’d fashioned, a few hours before.

Filed under:

No comments: