First Play in the Sandpit

The re-opening of the children playgrounds took us by surprise. Somehow, this piece of news escaped my daily browsing of coronavirus/lockdown related local news. We realised it on the fourth day only, when we happened to walk by one and noticed it was… full :))). We used to walk every day by the playground in the park closest to us. Little gosling would ask every time “playground still closed?” and we’d circle it, with him grabbing the fence and looking through it to the slide and the swing and the rocking car. .It had just so happened that on the previous days, he had wanted to take a different route. We missed the playground so much, with more than two months of sunny, warm weather..

Little gosling ran excitedly inside, up on the slide… he had forgotten how to come down on it. He came down once, almost lying down on his back and with such a speed his bump touched the ground with a noise and hopped once more. He was scared to go down a second time. 

He ran instead to the sandpit. It was only the second time he was coming across one. The very first time, it was very late last autumn. There was only one toddler, his age more or less, in the pit. He had excitedly grabbed some of the sand toys, to the kid’s desperation, but we quickly distracted him towards the slide. This time, I was trying to get him home for his nap. I promised we’d pick up his newly acquired sand toys and we’d come back that same afternoon. 

So we did. We went back that afternoon with a bucket and sand toys, an excavator and a dump truck. Mostly kids played within their own bubbles. After a while,, a younger baby set his eyes on little gosling’s toys. He was visiting and did not have his toys with him. He crawled next to us and first went for the bucket; little gosling started crying and asking for the bucket back, grabbing it from the baby’s hands. 

We managed to get to a compromise: put the bucket in the middle, between them and give the baby one of the toys so that they could both put sand in the bucket. We explained the baby was just very curious and wanted to be his friend; recalled to him how good it felt when other kids had shared their toys with him; how kind it is to let a (younger) baby play with his toys; reassured him that the baby was just playing with his toys for a short while and that us and the baby’s parents will make sure that all his toys would go home with us. 

Ok… But when baby took the bucket and emptied it of sand, little gosling started crying again; “put it down! put it down!” Next was the baby curiously reaching for all his toys one by one. We tried to have him share, talking soothingly to him and all the time one of us having our arms around him and it all went quite well until the baby reached for his excavator… Anything, BUT the “efekelu”… We offered the baby the dump truck instead. They played for a while, until the baby and his parents left, but little gosling was stressed throughout that the baby would take his toys home (“no take my toys, no”). All our soothing and reassuring did not succeed in completely dispelling that fear. 

Over the following days, we went through more of the same, as we returned to the sandpit and babies and kids of different ages came to play with little gosling. He’s happy to share, as long as the shovel, the bucket, the fish toy and the excavator are safe in his hands (or mine :P; he sometimes gives them to me for safekeeping). He’s generally happy to play with mommy or daddy, whoever is there, without necessarily paying attention to the other kids. We fill the bucket with sand and then he pours it over the black penguins, standing up or lying down on the sandpit, as if they are taking a shower. Ooor, we hide one of his sand toys, usually the clam, in the bucket, cover it up with sand and then play at finding it, eventually ending up in flipping over and emptying the bucket among little gosling’s giggles and squeals.

He does scout around for toys when he does not have his own with him. He played with another kid’s bucket, shovel and excavator one time, whilst the kid was on the slide. When he saw the kid’s mom was gathering the toys and getting ready to leave (whilst leaving the toys he was using for the very last moment), he took them one by one over to them. 

Communicating with him about using other kid’s toys and returning them has been straightforward so far. Helping him learn the virtues and benefits of sharing is work in progress :).

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