Christmas can be a little tricky when it comes to present-giving for our children. Not Emma, not really, she’s quite easy. She loves magic tricks, books, Lego, anything science related, anything that will make her laugh.
And yet when people ask me about Alex, what he might like, I freeze and end up suggesting Nothing, as there’s nothing he really needs, or clothes, but actually… my little boy has very definite likes. They may be the likes of a 12-24 month old child, not the 5 year old that he is, but it doesn’t make them any less legitimate.
He loves vehicles.
He may not push them around the kitchen, I may not hear him saying ‘Brrrrrum, out of my way Mummy!’, but I see him picking them up, turning them over, rattling them to see if they make a sound… he actively seeks them out in his toy box. The tiny steamroller is a particular favourite right now.
This bring us neatly to V tech. How we have a love/ hate relationship with V tech.
Most of you with children yourselves will, I suspect, recognise these. They come in many guises: animals, vehicles (both domestic and industrial :-)) and all of them, without fail… sing. Make a noise. Flash a light. I know that all of us in this house either turn them off, or turn them down because the songs get inside your head and won’t leave. I find myself singing about being a brave ambulance… Emma practically refuses to get into the car if Deborah the bloody zebra is there too… but Alex LOVES them. I don’t know if it’s because they are palm sized, or the repetition of the song or the lights that flash. But they are a total winner.
(Please don’t buy him any more of them though).
Toys you can manipulate.
This has been a bit of a slow burn. We got him this for last Christmas and – apart from the odd foot chew – it just lay forlorn for about 6 months. But then suddenly Alex got it. Now he’ll pick up him and move his legs and arms around. To see him make that cognitive jump, well… you get it.
Musical instruments. We’ve talked about this before I know but Alex loves music. He smiles at songs and notes being played. Sometimes, if he’s not too tired, we have a jam session in his room before bedtime (thereby ignoring my rule of ‘nothing exciting to happen before sleep’) – we’ll get out his drum, his bongo drums (that plays La Bamba incessantly), his xylophone (which he loves to play with his feet) and all the shakers we can find. Emma quite often joins in too. Sometimes it’s quite the cacophonous din of us all playing at once. Sometimes it’s just Alex grabbing whatever Emma and I have chosen and playing it himself. It’s just fun. And to have someting interactive to do with Alex is delightful. The pleasure on his face is just there to be seen.
Books. Books were such an integral part of having Emma; we would read every night, a ridiculous number of stories, all tied in to: ‘brush your teeth before we read another one’. It was (still is) such a ‘together’, enjoyable activity. I was really troubled to think that we might not have that with Alex too. So with Alex… it is different, but still fun. Sometimes I read to him just because it’s a lovely story and, depending on his mood, he’ll get excited by them, squeal at me in appreciation, hit the book with happy fists or grab it to stare, positively digest, the pictures, the text on the page. Other times he’ll ignore me completely. Which is ok too.
By far the best books for Alex are the ones with sounds to listen to, flaps to open, buttons to press. He can find the button, press it down, listen to the toot of a train, the roar of a lion and, again, the grin on his face is worth those times he won’t engage. Most times now he will help turn the pages, even if it’s just some of them, when we read the board books. He uses one hand to pull the page up towards him, the other to flatten it down to reveal the new page. Just like you or I would. Such a proud Mummy.
Clothes are always good though. Sometimes we can get through two pairs of pyjamas, a jumper and a pair of trousers by lunchtime. An ill-judged nappy change, breakfast, mud spattered up when we try a little walking in the park… all add up. I love to dress Alex in nice clothes but he needs more than perhaps his typically developing counterparts own.
So ignore my first reply when you ask me what he’d like. Don’t be afraid to try new ideas. He’d like most things really. He’s quite the typical child, liking to be distracted by a variety of playthings. Just for the younger age group.
Except the V Tech. Really, we have enough of those :-)