Learning to play

I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

- Isaac Newton

Life is like playing a violin in public and learning the instrument as one goes on.

- Samuel Butler

Most of us never think about how one learns to play. The very idea is counterintuitive. One doesn't learn to play, right? One has always known how. Other things require effort, but play is innate.
Well, at least for those of us who grew up in happy homes. Many adoptive parents, however, have brought home children who don't know how to play. It does seem unnatural. And there are many factors involved, both sensory and emotional. It was hard to guess how long it would take our daughter to learn to play - it's a difficult thing to teach, when you have virtually no foundation. More difficult than one would think, or that was my experience. I wasn't sure where to start.

Lately, however, along with so many other advances, I have seen QQ learning to play. There doesn't seem to have been a trigger or turning point...all of a sudden she just enjoys things that she didn't before - blocks, balls, puppets, wooden animals.

I can see her world expanding on a daily basis. Of course, it helps that she's suddenly so much more mobile - I didn't think it was going to happen, but she's now officially a speed-crawler. I'll turn around and suddenly she's on the other side of the room. The other day, she appeared in the bathroom door while I was blowdrying my hair (she had never breached the hallway before).

At this point, she has to pull everything out and take a look at it. This is fine, as long as I keep a close eye. She's still pretty circumspect and doesn't tend to break, swallow, poke herself with, or tip things over. She needs to explore her world, and I love to see that she now has a vested interest in doing so.

This was the day she suddenly liked her wooden blocks. I bought them before we left for China, but she showed absolutely no interest in them until now.
That's her "half smile", by the way. It absolutely kills me. It's such an adult expression, that half smile. It cracks me up each and every time.

Look at that aspect of sheer delight...it's like she's surveying a brand new candy box, and has only to decide which confection to sample first.

All this.....for me??

Playing is thirsty work, especially in this arid climate, and QQ makes sure to stay hydrated.

Another thing I could not get her interested in until recently. Everyone said she would want to bang things. She didn't. Only now is she beginning to enjoy wielding a good spoon.

That's a caterpillar, by the way. No, not a real one. The choking hazard kind. Don't worry, I didn't leave her alone with it. Nor did she have any interest in putting it in her mouth. She still likes paper and only paper for chewing on (I know...formaldehyde! I need to start buying organic paper products).

Does the duck go on my head? Does it????


Vivian M said...

Your post reminded me of when we brought Kerri home. We had to teach her how to cry and laugh. How to trust and have empathy. And yes, how to play too.
I think you are doing a great job and Flynn seems to be enjoying her lessons!
PS When you get that bread recipe, can you share?

Barbara said...

Have you tried taping a piece of paper on her highchair tray and giving her a crayon? I still have drawings that my oldest did when she was 13 months old - others she would rip, chew, & spit out - true performance art.

fourlittlehawks said...

This is one of the anamolies of adoption - when my biological children discovered the joy of zooming about the room and banging objects together, I felt a stab of nostalgia for the quieter, less mobile days. But when our adopted children do it, we celebrate the breakthrough - it was the same for me when Hannah dropped her eerie compliance and threw her very first tantrum - I was so excited I called everyone I knew!
~ Jen

Heather said...

I love all her smiles and that color orange is BEE-U-TI-FULL on QQ!

Fliss and Mike Adventures said...

There is NOTHING more gorgeous then watching a child play and learn along the way... it is like you can hear their little minds ticking over as they 'learn' something... as for exploring... I am all for that one...

Carrie said...

What a happy little girl-more pics of you and her!!!!!

Yoli said...

She is learning so many things with love. We also had to teach our daughter how to play. It took her sometime not to just put the toys away when we handed them to her.

Love the quotes you chose and the way they fit in your story.