Day 3: Documenting Passion
Our vacation was supposed to end two days ago, thrown off-track when my husband had to pay a surprise visit to the ER. Thankfully, all turned out okay, but our week moved in an unexpected direction. We’re staying with the grandparents near Boston, and the opportunity in disguise was that N got to attend the Barbie-Mermaid birthday party of two of her favorite 4-year old friends yesterday. Yes, you read that right…Barbies AND Mermaids. Woah! And while cupcakes were not involved, a giant Barbie dress-cake (the dress was green with mermaid scales) played center role, captivating the kids more than any cupcakes I’ve ever seen.  In the afternoon we visited the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, a really unique spot to check out if you’re ever in the Boston area.  I worked there a few years back, and wanted to experience it through my daughter’s eyes.  Sooo, day 3’s observations are somewhat based on a sugar-high birthday party and contemporary art, kid-style.

Day 3: Observations

  • Playing with fake apples: Filling baskets with fake apples, selling them to me and her uncle Chris (and then buying them back), shooting the apples into the basket. (Me: “Mmmm….I’m going to have a bite of this apple.” N: “No, that’s not a real apple. It’s pretend.”  Sheesh, she must think I’m losing my brain!). Note: More sorting, selling, and throwing.

carrying apples

  • Throwing water bottles. Hmmm…she knows we only throw balls, but her shot is soooo good, I had to let this one go for a little while. Note: Throwing AGAIN.
  • Setting up a hospital in her friends’ play room. She set up three strollers with dolls in each of them, found a doctor kit, and proceeded to take everyone’s temperature, blood pressure, and listen to their hearts with the stethoscope. Although she occasionally plays doctor at home, could this be connected to dad’s trip to the hospital yesterday?

Day 3: Documenting Passion

  • Tire Rubbings. In the DeCordova’s Process Gallery, I showed her how to make a rubbing of tire tread (a thoughtful hands-on project that connected to the work of Chakaia Booker), and once she figured it out, she made seven rubbings. Seven! We tried doing rubbings at home about a month ago, with little success. Maybe the age and the fun materials played a role in today’s high level of interest.

Day 3: Documenting Passion

  • Climbing on “logs” (made of recycled magazines and scraps of wood) in a DeCordova installation by Nadya Volicer. Jumping from one log to another, jumping off logs, building a circuit of log-hopping and repeating it least 10 times. Probably not the artist’s intent, but I doubt two-year olds were the audience she was designing the space for. N also loves taking off her shoes — anywhere — and was thrilled that we were required to take our shoes off to enter the space. Note: She’s been testing her body’s capabilities lately, and has been pushing herself to walk on balance beams, climb just about anything, and jump. Loads of fearless climbing, balancing and jumping.



  1. oh rac. Scott in ER. and you still have the time and mind set to keep your project going. you are amazing!!! I need to hear your voice.

    and what a joy to see the installation complete by Nadya. Simone and I were there when she was hooking the rug. I love the DeCordova!!!!

    • Well, as you know, despite what’s been going on, a 2-year old keeps on ticking and stops for no one. So, I kept on going too. And I have the grandparent support, which is priceless. The installation was so cool, and what a great experience you must have had to see Nadya working on the piece right there. Let’s talk soon. Oh, and I love your newest post…will be posting my own link to it shortly. xoxo

  2. Hi Rachelle!

    Well, as you know, I have a 25 month old boy, and I think most people would immediately imagine that I am documenting a lot of crazy, undirected physical energy. And they would not be wrong, at least in part. I have witnessed Max making obstacle courses and jumping from chair to cushion to cushion, I have seen him running at top speed with his baby doll stroller, I have watched as he runs in circles singing “Hot potato! Hot potato!”, etc. This boy does like to move!

    However, what I found most interesting in my observations over the last 2 1/2 days, is that Max also systematically intersperses “quiet” activities among the chaotic ones, almost like he is giving his mind and his body a real rest. He’ll pause after some physical activity and read books by himself for a while, very engrossed in the stories. Or he’ll sing nursery rhymes while cuddling with a stuffed animal or his blanket. Or he’ll practice making different textures with playdough.

    In essence, just as I, as a parent, recognize his need for some quiet, focused time, he seems to sense it instinctively as well and gravitates towards quiet activities in between the active ones.

    I notice the same pattern when we are out at the park. He’ll climb and run and socialize, but then ask to retreat to the swings – almost as his way to decompress and observe rather than participate.

    In the end, I’m glad to know that some of my maternal instincts are not so far off from what my son’s own body and mind seem to tell him as well! Of course, this is not so much about specific interests, but more about activity patterns. Either way, I found it interesting and would love to hear what you’ve witnessed with Nola as well.

    • Hi Aleksandra!

      The crazies you describe sound so much like the crazies I witness in my own home on a daily basis. While it’s probably somewhat unique to our kids’ personalities, given that they’re the same age, there’s most certainly some shared developmental patterns in all of this.

      Your observation of Max’s need for down time is fascinating, and it’s inspiring how in sync you are with his needs. And while you were already supporting his desire to balance high and low energy activities, it will no doubt help you and Max to keep this in the forefront of your mind if things suddenly get wild on a play date…and you’ll help him find that little quiet place he needs to restore his energy.

      As for N, we’ve long noticed her compulsion for cleaning and organizing, and this week I’ve noted a related interest in sorting — putting everything in its place. God only knows where she gets this from. If traits skip generations, it’s most certainly my mother-in-law. And on the activity level, there’s a continued passion for play acting, highlighted by cooking and taking care of babies. How do we fill our gender roles at such a young age? I’ve also noticed a HUGE interest in pretending that she herself is a baby, which is no doubt related to her attempt at wrapping her head around soon losing that role in the family.

      I’m so glad you went on this little journey with me — it’ll be fun to see how these passions grow and/or change as our kids get older.

      • Hi again, Rachelle! And welcome home!

        Thanks for sharing your insights with me as well – it really is so interesting to read about our toddlers’ interests and activity patterns. Like you have observed with N, I also have noticed a huge interest that Max seems to have now in pretending he’s a baby – crawling around or making little crying noises and saying “Max is crawling like a baby” or “Max is crying like a baby”, etc. I wish I could get in their heads and see what they really understand about the new siblings that will be joining them very soon.

        Keep on sharing, and I’ll do the same!

  3. Did she see the giant baby at the decordova?

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