Children clearly do not have the same values for toys that we do. They make toys out of the strangest things and play with them in ways that, well, grown-ups wouldn’t. As with all children, Elisa enjoys her cardboard tubes and pieces of string and other random objects. She has two birthday cards from her first birthday that never got put away that she has regularly picked up and read for most of a year now. She likes making her stuffed animals naked (and even gets very angsty when trying to get their clothes off) and then will be done with the toy almost immediately. The ones that are naked she wants to diaper and use wipes on – with repeated “eew” sound effects. Perhaps the most surprising was that she fell in love with a plastic lawn ornament in the shape of a dog, just small enough for her to tote around.
We inherited the dog from the previous owners of the house. It was in a corner of the basement and we aren’t very good at getting rid of things. Of course, that is the half of the basement that still hasn’t gotten organized in the 4 years we’ve been here (though it is close now!) So one day 6-8 months ago, we were in the basement and she took to the dog. Since ‘dog’ was one of her first words, we heard about the dog frequently. She would make a beeline for him anytime we went into the basement. Since we had seedlings for the garden growing in the basement for a month that we wanted to see her grow, this was reasonably frequent. Once she managed to trip over something walking around the plants while holding the dog and his ears got chipped and he got a hole in his rear. However, all the damage was cosmetic and she seemed more upset about her minor scratches – he was not tarnished in her eyes.
Ink appreciates things like the dog that take some of the focus off him. While Elisa is amazingly good with Ink, she has not learned how to be really gentle, and therefore Ink is even more amazing with her! Ink has been petted, screamed over, and decorated with various clothing or beads. The dog could never replace Ink since it didn’t move, but it was her dog.
As the weather got nicer and we went in the basement through the outside door, the dog was carried outside. We made the rule that he was either outside or in the basement, but not in the main house. So she would carry him around the deck and try to feed him, sometimes make believe food and sometimes her snacks. As it has gotten warmer, one day she got a dropper so Mommy got her water to play with using the dropper (mostly Mommy used the dropper, but she tried.) Soon she decided to play with the dog and water. We pretended the dog was having a bath.
Of course, as something that is important to her, Elisa is very good at keeping track of where the dog is. The other afternoon she wanted in the basement. We thought she wanted a trowel (it is adorable to hear a 22 month old say ‘trowel’!), but she was very insistent that wasn’t it and was getting worked up. On pressing farther into the basement, we found the dog at the foot of the stairs – in pieces. Quickly earlier events of the day came back to memory and explained the problem.
Ink has a cat door to the basement, where he stays at nights, and Elisa has long been fond of putting small objects through the cat door. Earlier that afternoon she made a beeline through the door from the deck and shoved something through the cat door while Mommy and Daddy weren’t looking and it made a big thump as it went down the stairs. Since this was in the midst of dinner preparations, we got distracted and never investigated.
Now we could see it had been the dog. The dog was supposed to be outside or in the basement, so she had gone through the house quickly to get the dog to the basement. And since Ink went through the cat door all the time unscathed, of course her doggie would be just fine. Unfortunately the doggie was not just fine, with his whole derriere missing and a few sharp edges. Whisking Elisa away from the pieces, Daddy retired the beloved plastic dog to the trash.
Thankfully, Elisa has not asked for the dog. Perhaps she knew something was wrong which was why she wanted to get him in the basement so badly. But I’m sure she will find some other interesting toy to take its place!