Have you noticed that many toys for children are mostly useless? They are great for eye candy, yes, but children get the best entertainment from simple, everyday things - like a piece of string, a spoon and a plate, a newspaper - or shadows!
Every morning, I put out Puttachi's toys and watch her play. Her blocks are great for teaching her colours and stacking them up for her to topple. They are even better for her to rub her teething gums against them. But they are soon cast aside.
Nothing lights up her eyes like her Kangaroo handpuppet or her stuffed lion cub. But they too get the sack within minutes.
What really holds her interest are things we wouldn't even have noticed. Like the slip of paper with a grocery list. The cap of a bottle that has rolled under the table. A towel. A stray piece of thread. An ant. A drop of water.
When my cousin V was a kid of about 3 years, he had got hold of a largish carton, the kind that televisions come packed in. This simple brown cardboard carton held his attention for days on end. He set it up on the floor, sat in it, and it became a boat, and he the boatman. After rowing to his heart's content, he upturned it, sat on it, and it became a bus, and he the conductor. In a while, he sat it with the opening to the side, width parallel to the ground, and the opening became a door, and the box his house. After several hours of playing house-house, he placed the box with the length of the opening parallel to the ground, and it became a den, and he, a lion. He roared and roared and ate all of us up.
More than ten days did this carton engage him. A car would have remained a car, and a doll a doll. But a carton? It could become anything!
A few days ago, Puttachi spotted a spot of sunlight on the wall, and she was fascinated. She forgot everything else and played with the spot for more than fifteen minutes, and that is a lot to say for some one as restless as this kid is.
She tries to touch it.....
She can't! So she observes it closely.....
She tries again...... hey it is on my hand now!
She cannot understand it.
So she tries to lick it instead!
It is true. The best toys on earth are free!