Documenting Passion Roundup

If you’ve been following me the past week, you know that I’ve been observing my daughter’s interests and activities in an attempt to document her passions by asking the question “What does she gravitate toward?” And the point of all that is to unpack some truths about her core interests (as opposed to forming my own assumptions about her interests). It’s been tough, at times, to separate myself completely into the role of observer, but given that I charted this path for a full week, I think I’ve taken a good stab at picking up on some of the qualities that currently define my child’s interests. And I also recognize that as she further develops and is exposed to new ideas, she’ll change and grow over time.

An interesting development this past week are the observations of Aleksandra and Danielle (see their comments on the past few posts), who both spotted behavioral patterns in their children. Aleksandra saw that her son, Max, needs to find quiet moments in his day to give him a little bit of respite from high levels of activity. And Danielle observed an inherent need to spread materials, objects, and toys in her daughter, Simone.  Related to this, I observed that my child is a sorter: she likes to clean, organize, separate, and place objects in small containers; which has led me to give her plenty of like materials (fake apples, water bottles, ice cubes, etc.) to sort  and organize.

This project has also alerted me to activity interests, the most obvious being her desire to play-act. And she seems most interested in play-acting moments and events from her recent experience. For example, after making pancakes with her G-Ma last week, she spontaneously made sand pancakes in the park yesterday. We’ve also spent a lot of time prepping her for the arrival of her baby sister. In reaction to this, just this morning she crawled all over the house, refused to talk (because, you know, babies don’t talk), and then broke character to ask me to mash up her bananas so she could eat them like a baby. To see how she’s handling the influx of baby gear, check out the picture at the top of this post.  If I didn’t already see a pattern of imaginative play as a means of grappling with her daily reality, I may have been concerned about what could otherwise be interpreted as receding behavior. This is rather obvious stuff, I know, but it alerts me to help her capture defining moments from her experience and support them through imaginative play.

And perhaps one of the biggest eye-openers is that I’ve noticed that art-making activities, which are near and dear to me, have been virtually nonexistent over the past week.  While there have been moments of involuntary drawing and mark-making (tire rubbings at the DeCordova was a big hit), my child has been more invested in other activities. At no point did I jot down any notes like “wants to paint” or “excited about drawing with chalk on the sidewalk.” And there could be many reasons for this: the novelty factor may be low because we make art so often or she may be at the developmental stage where art is too passive and she’d rather keep moving. This doesn’t mean that I’ll stop the art activities all together…my child is young and as she develops, her skills will catch up with her mind…but I am aware that I shouldn’t expect my child to love every activity I set before her.  All in all, following what N gravitates toward has been a worthwhile pursuit that has raised my awareness of her desires.  And for those of you who were playing along — please share how this all sorted out for you too!

On that note, more art and creative activities coming soon. :)

Comments

  1. Aleksandra says

    I love your wrap up! It’s great to be able to step back and see our children from a little bit of a distance, and it’s also super interesting to notice that at least for this week, Nola did not gravitate toward the art activities that you so often offer her. You are absolutely right that it does not mean the “end” of those activities, but rather that we need to acknowledge that our child’s interests are often slightly different (or dramatically different!) than our own.

    On a personal note, I was also glad to read about Nola’s play-acting as a baby because I have noticed some of the same behaviors in Max, who is expecting his new sister in exactly two weeks! Without reading my documentation that he also pretended he was a pilot (after watching planes take off from the Palo Alto Airport) and pretended he was a garbage man (after our Monday trash pick-up), I also might have worried that this was a ‘regression’ and was a warning of trouble ahead, but I think you hit it on the head when you said that it is just part of the new interest in play-acting in general.

    Thanks again for sharing your observations and for giving me good food for thought!

    • says

      I’m so glad we were in this project together — It’s been fun sharing these moments of discovery with you. Similar to Max’s take on playing pilot and garbage man, Nola has been pretending to be a lifeguard since getting yelled at by a Menlo Park lifeguard for running by the side of the pool. Since we debunked her interpretation that she was in big trouble, explaining that he was merely trying to protect the kids from getting hurt, she now climbs high up on a stool to announce she’s a lifeguard and asks “who’s in trouble?” At this point I have to “swim” around the kitchen, pretend I’m drowning, and then I get rescued with a hug. Yay.

  2. Kanda says

    Hi Rachelle,

    I’ve been documenting and jotting things down, but have not yet had a chance to update you on this blog. Tonight is no different, but just wanted to let you know that I WILL relay the info that I have learned this past week soon. Thanks for starting this project as it has really enlightened me in more ways that one. As you will see in my soon-to-come summary, JD has many “passions” that i was aware of but I also discovered others that were somewhat new to me. I don’t think I would’ve consciously paid attention to them and pondered them if it were not for this endeavor. More to come later…

    • Kanda says

      and by the way, I could’ve taken a picture similar to the one you have of Nola above lying under baby sister’s playmat as JD did the same thing this week, imitating baby sister, “goo-goo-ing, ga-ga-ing” on his sister’s mat :) Another by the way, discovered that baby sister was also one of my son’s “passions” :)

    • says

      With a newborn and toddler in your house, you are my hero to have been able to even jot ideas down, let alone update me on this blog! Look forward to hearing about your insights when you have a chance :) And I’m glad to hear this project shed some light JD’s passions — baby sister included!

  3. says

    even though we don’t have kids, i still find your blog fascinating. hope you don’t mind if i follow. (although steve does act like a child sometimes, kidding!!!!) hope you are well. love your blog. we miss you.

    • says

      No kids necessary to follow along :) Hmmm, that should be my new tagline. The more the merrier, especially when Jen and Steve are involved. We miss you guys too. xoxo

  4. Kanda says

    and five years later, here’s my discovery…
    I jotted down things as I observed them, but have lost track of which days it actually occurred on, but below is a summary.

    - THE POWER OF MAGNETS: JD has played with magnets before, but only in the context of the refrigerator, so when he discovered that magnets can stick to other things, he was amazed; going around the house wondering what the next stickable item will be.

    - MOMMY’S LITTLE HELPER: JD has never been interested in lending me a hand while I’m tidying up; and I have to plead him to clean up his toys, but for some reason, when I whipped out the vacuum cleaner (and no, it wasn’t the first time I’ve ever used this machine), JD was interested in helping out. I encouraged this new “passion” by allowing him to vacuum where-ever he pleased and complimented him on a job well-done. Who knew vacuuming would allow for about half and hour of mommy-kiddy time.

    - IS IT A STRAW OR IS IT AN ALLIGATOR? We shared a smoothie one afternoon and after the all the yumminess was in our bellies, JD had confiscated the straw and started biting, bending and twisting it. It traveled with him to our trip to the supermarket and he bent it in half pretending it was an alligator chomping everything in sight. who knew a straw would be so much fun.

    - GIDDY UP PARTNER! We have a small rectangular box that used to house a set of Duplo Legos. It now sits empty as the Duplos have found a new home with the other Legos. JD discovered a new use for this box as he put it on his head and climbed onto the arm of the couch, pretending the box was a cowboy hat and the couch arm was a horse, yelling “Mee-Ha, Mee-Ha” (that’s JD for “yee-haw”). He loves taking various items and using them as hats – his sand pail is his helmet and when he puts it on, he yells, “let’s play football!” Also, he took my empty insulated bag (the one that comes with the breast pump, intended to keep milk cold) and put it on his head pretending it was his “racing hat.” not sure where that came from, but it was pretty cute. I took a picture to preserve the moment :)

    - NON-STOP BOUNCING – we went to gymnastics class on Thursday. This is a usual activity he does with his nanny, but since she was on vacation, I had the pleasure of finally seeing him in action at one of his favorite places. This day, he was loving the tumble track. He spent about a third of the class jumping on it. I’m not sure if there’s anything he loves more than this thing. I’ve noticed that when we go places, many times, instead of walking or hopping or running, he loves to jump. Jump, jump, jump! Strangers have asked him if he’s a kangaroo.

    - THE FLY – somehow a fly managed to enter into the house. JD was obsessed with its presence, and for about 45 minutes, couldn’t take his eyes off of it, constantly asking “What is the fly doing?” “Why is the fly in here?” and yelling “fly! you don’t want to be in my house!”

    - CARVED FLOWER – Getting take-out for dinner is a common occurrence for our family these days. We frequent the vegetarian Chinese place and one day, as we went to pick up our food, one of the chefs was sitting on the table in the dining area carving a flower from a turnip (well, they called it a white carrot, but it looked more like a turnip to me). He generously gave the “flower” to JD who happily (and surprisingly gently) took it from him and sniffed it as it was a real flower. He usually really rough and destructive, but was so surprising gentle as he held it all the way home. He cupped both hands together and held it as if it was a piece of delicate China, occasionally sniffing it the rest of the evening.

    - SISTER – JD has increasingly found interest in his new baby sister. He always wants to touch her and loves it when he looks at him and smiles, he screams excitedly “she’s looking at me!” I try to encourage his interest and like to sit with both of them on my lap, facing each other, letting JD carefully and gently touch her cheeks (he’s obsessed with her cheeks!) and pointing out her little features. He plays along saying, “look at her little hands, look at her little ears.”

    - TRAINS, PLANES AND AUTOMOBILES – his toy trains, trucks and all things mobile are his usual passions, so it’s no surprise to me that he visits with them at least once a day.

    This week of observations has really opened my eyes to my child’s ever-changing interests and surprising imagination. It also helped me to mindfully encourage him in his passions and discover which ones he mostly gravitates towards. He’s definitely driven towards all things active, but can surprisingly be gentle and calm when needed.

    • says

      Kanda!! You are one incredible mom. I loved reading about JD’s passions, and now I want to spend more time with him…he’s hilarious! The alligator straw is such a great example of how simple a toy can be to entertain a child’s mind. The depth of your documentation has also led me to see that you’ve not only deepened your own understanding of JD’s interests, but you’ve also captured a detailed snapshot of his development that will be a joy to read in years to come. I love having your insights here, and hope you’ll keep on sharing.

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