My 5 year old son is a persistent inventor. He doesn’t tell us his plans upfront. He comes to ask for help with 100 small tasks that eventually get bigger and bigger and bigger. Then right when he is about to get in trouble for something, like climbing the counters to get to the scissors, he’ll reveal a brilliant plan. My frustration will immediately dissipate, and I (usually) stop whatever it is I am doing to try to help find a safer and/or less messy way to execute his idea.
A few weeks ago he came up to me with a small sheet of paper and asked if I’d draw a sleeping face on it. I did. He left.
He came back with some masking tape and asked if I could tear off a small piece. I did. He left.
He came back with about 30 smaller pieces of paper and asked for help drawing 30 different things on them, a pair of binoculars, a train, a clock, a book, etc. We did that together. He left.
He dumped out all of the toys in his bins. This is the part where I started to get frustrated. He explained he was making a game. I didn’t get it (yet). I let him continue because I know from past experience these aren’t random acts.
I still tried not to get frustrated when he dragged out his mini couch and a blanket. It seemed like he was just making a mess, but I reminded myself again this is purposefully orchestrated.
My son put his Cat in the Hat doll on his mini couch and covered Cat with the blanket. The sleeping face I had drawn earlier was taped over Cat’s face. My son turned his toy bins upside down to create a boarder around the couch. Then on top of the bins he lined up our tiny pictures of different toys we had drawn. Lastly, he gathered up all of his Paw Patrol stuffed animals and asked his little sister and I to play “Don’t Wake Cat!”.
Everyone was assigned a Paw Patrol character as their game piece. We had to pick one of the pictures of the toys we had drawn from the bin in front of us. Then we had to progress to that picture without waking Cat. If we were too loud, my son would pull the sleeping face flap down, and Cat would be awake. If we woke Cat up we had to start over. The first person to make it to the last bin without waking Cat won.
See. Like I said, brilliant. Yeah, I realize there are some holes in the game, like how my son was in charge of deciding if Cat got woken up or not. So obviously he won the game. Overall I thought the attention to detail and concept were impressive and original. I love the way this kid’s mind works, and I am reminded once again that he always, always, always has a plan.