Too Many Toys
I have never met a parent who says, "We don't have enough toys." The number of places and ways toys come into our homes is staggering. No longer is gift-giving reserved for families to share treasures with each other to celebrate holidays. Now, like David Shannon so aptly describes in his picture book called "Too Many Toys," children acquire stuff at doctor's offices, dentist's offices, and even other children's birthday parties!
Expressing our love is easy if all we need to do is be generous with giving them stuff. But, really,
children really only crave one thing: your undivided and caring attention. And there are few places better than a bathtub to give your child just that!
Enough is Enough
It is enough to just sit with your child at bath time. With no toys to distract you, you can enjoy each other. Tell your child something about your day. Ask him or her about their day.
It is enough to feel the water on your skin.
It is enough to watch a sponge change from dry to wet.
It is enough to experience the smell and feel of soap, bubbles, and washcloth.
It is enough to climb, dripping, out of the water and be wrapped in a fluffy towel.
Lessons Learned from my Autistic Son about Self-Care
One of the symptoms of autism is a preoccupation with objects over people. In fact, many young boys are obsessed with cars and trucks, or dinosaurs, or any number of not-human objects. But with autism, the interest is hyper-focused to the point it gets in the way of life. My beef with bath toys is a case in point.
At the end of the day everyone runs out of steam. My autistic son seeks comfort in the distraction of watching wheels turn, water pour from cups, propellers turn, or any other number of mechanical wonders. Breaking attention away from those comforts is stressful for him and, in turn, for me. So the simplest thing we can do at the end of the day, at bath time, is to be toy-free.
With no toys, it is enough for him to sit with me and enjoy my company.
It is enough for him to feel the water on his skin.
It is enough for him to watch a sponge change from dry to wet.
It is enough for him to experience the smell and feel of soap, bubbles, and washcloth.
It is enough for him to climb, dripping, out of the water and be wrapped in a fluffy towel.
Don't get me wrong! I LOVE water play. Water provides the basis for a lot of awesome activities. It soothes, inspires, and makes you happy. By playing with water young children can learn pre-science, pre-math, problem solving, and language. So by all means...find time and space for your child to play in and with water and with water toys. Just don't do it at bath time.