Friday, May 27, 2005

Creation, Destruction and the Toddler Mind

I just watched/participated as the Wee One played for a solid hour with her wooden blocks. She would have played longer, but her "Auntie" convinced her to put them away (apparently, I have the shorter attention span). I was mesmerised by the whole ordeal: she would work tirelessly to create elaborate mansions, called "houses for the kitties." (The "kitties" are actually two leopards from her Little People Noah's Ark set.) She builds and strategises, balancing things precariously at times. I can't believe how careful she is. And if she knocks over a tower, she isn't discouraged, but instead rebuilds it immediately. She is so engrossed in her task that she speaks far less coherent English than usual; she only speaks if I am near, because she feels the need to include me and help me to marvel at her creations.

This continues until every last block is somehow set into place, with the "kitties" posed inside. (I would say she has a tendency toward Roman architecture, which is understandable considering her father's classicist leanings, but she's two years old, for crying out loud.) The Wee Girlie then triumphs at her accomplishment, showing it to me, jumping up and down, and looking it from all angles.

Then, she stops, looks towards me, and asks, "Knock it over?" She is more excited in the destruction than in the creation: she becomes a tiny Godzilla, stomping through her wooden metropolis. When she is satisfied that every block has been knocked over, she begins again.

I can't get enough of this. It is entirely against all of my tendencies, because I have always been the historian, the archivist, the preservationist. I am constantly attempting to figure out how to preserve every moment perfectly: I journal obsessively; I take and categorise photos; I save everything. My favourite field of history is monument theory, because I love analysing attempts to make memory "concrete." I am convinced that, at her age, I would have been devestated by watching a creation destroyed. I had a horrible fear that my house was going to burn down, or a tornado would take it away, and everything that I treasured would be lost. From a very young age I had a strategy for everything that I would grab as I escaped, in case of emergency. And it can be assumed that those same possessions sat on my lap as I huddled in the basement, every time there was a tornado watch. (I blame WKRP in Cincinnati for both fears.)

And yet here is this small creature, who makes creation and destruction part of the same process, taking joy in both.

1 comment:

Life of Turner said...

Speaking of television shows about radio stations that employ eccentric characters, NewsRadio Seasons 1&2 just came out on DVD last Tuesday. The WKRP for a new generation.

Derek out.