Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Imaginative Play - two-year-old child

My wife and I are hiding a secret from our daughter. It's upstairs in my wife's personal room. It's a telephone. A telephone which plays "Home, home on the range" if you push the button to pause a call, and which reads out each number as you press it.

The numbers are extremely large, and I can see them easily.

The main phone, holding the answering phone messages, is upstairs, but a radio-connected handset is plugged in downstairs.

My daughter saw the handset last night and ended up playing with the "start a call" and "end a call" buttons, both of which make delicious electronic beeps.

The master phone in the upstairs room would have been doubly delicious, no doubt, but we will keep it a secret for as long as we can.

My daughter likes the handset downstairs, and I'm sure she would like to have her own mobile phone, but, as yet, she does not have one. Consequently, she cannot (as yet) get her own gmail account, since Google has chosen to deny these to anyone who does not have access to a mobile phone.

When my daughter is old enough for her own mobile phone (a social necessity in a couple of years, I suspect) then I will borrow her phone and set up my own gmail account.

As has already been indicated, my daughter, Aiko Cornucopia Nishikawa, likes electronic things that beep. She also likes videos (of which she has a collection of five), and she likes screaming, which is not just a hobby but a vocation.

She also likes icecream, oranges, bananas, and the piano.

As yet, she is too young to learn to play the piano. She is only two years old. (Or, more exactly, is about 26 months old.)

On Monday 5 June, when my wife dropped in at the piano school which operates just round the corner from the station, my wife was told that a child's hands do not mature to piano-playing strength until the child is four years old.

Nevertheless, Cornucopia knows what a piano is. She has been watching a TV novel which has a pianist as its heroine and which screens in 15-minute segments six days a week.

Although Cornucopia will not be physically mature enough to thump the piano properly for another year, apparently she can start piano lessons when she is only three.

Meantime, I have noticed that she has started imaginative play.

I don't know when she started this, but I have noticed her doing it in the last few weeks. She will say she is going shopping, and will tell you what she plans to buy, then disappears in the direction of the stairs, and returns shortly and announces that she is back. Then she will tell you what she has bought at the supermarket, which she visits with us every Saturday morning.

My wife recently went to the Kawasaki branch of the baby-and-child store, Akachan Honpo, and bought a cooking set. This features plastic plates, a plastic frying pan, a plastic gas stove, and various food items, including food items which are stuck together with Velcro (in Japanese, "magic tape") so they can be cut in two with the plastic knife.

The food items include an egg, a lemon and a hamburger (or, in Cornucopia's parlance, a "hamburgler"), and a fish. The fish has a big fillet which can be detached to reveal the inner bones.

There are also other things, such as a small milk carton and a couple of packets of curry.

Cornucopia likes to stand in the kitchen watching her mother cook, something she started doing when we were all staying at my parents' place in Auckland, New Zealand, earlier this year.

When she is in the kitchen, which is a very dangerous place, she has to stay on a stool, which provides an element of control.

I keep noticing the mismatch between her intellectual development and her emotional development. From her level of emotional maturity, you would think she is just five minutes old.

But this is standard for kids of this age, as I notice when I drop my daughter off at the daycare center in the morning. Sometimes it seems as if everyone in the world is screaming.

Intellectually, Cornucopia seems to have a grip on the past, the present and the future. There are photos on a windowledge in the room upstairs where we sleep, showing people who we encountered while Cornucopia and my wife were in New Zealand earlier this year, and Cornucopia confidently identifies them.

However, as yet, THE CAT IN THE HAT is too recondite for her. Also, she does not get my jokes, and her mother has to tell her when it's a joke.

Cornucopia: "Iku ka". (Literally: "Go. This is a question mark." To the English-speaking ear, it sounds like "Iku car".

Hugh: "Iku bus."

Mama: "Papa just made a joke. Laugh, Cornucopia. Ha ha ha!"

Cornucopia: (loudly and obediently): "Ha ha ha!"

Presently, I leave home with Cornucopia at 0830 to deliver her to the daycare center, ten minutes away by pushchair, and pick her up at 1715 each evening. Once my wife goes back to work, which will probably be next month, in July, or at the end of this month, I will pick Cornucopia up at 1800.

This will allow me to commute to a part-time job during the day or, if I end up teaching private English conversation students at home, which is possible, to teach at home while my wife is at work and while my daughter is at the daycare center.

We have just about done everything that needs to be done in preparation for my wife's return to work. On Monday 5 June we bought the phone mentioned earlier, and also a new vacuum cleaner.

The same day, we went to the Immigration Department in Yokohama. (Take the Toyoko line to Motomachi-chukagai, go out of exit 4, turn left out of the station, turn left down the first road you come to, keep going with the overhead expressway on your right, and you find the Immigration Department on the left. On the fifth floor.)

One thing we are waiting for is my next appointment, toward the end of June, when I will receive the results of the MRI scan of the brain which I had recently.

After a bumpy return to Japan, Cornucopia has settled back in at the daycare center, and has a regular evening routine, which features one or more of the following: playing with the plastic tricycles parked in the neighbor's carparking space (which she is kindly permitted to do); blowing bubbles (at the recent daycare center picnic, everyone got two bubble pipes and containers for holding them); doing jigsaws; watching her video collection (with a maximum of two videos being permitted in one evening session); doing jigsaws; playing with her cooking set; dressing up with her fairy wig, her butterfly wings, her bunny ears, her princess crown and her magic fairy wand; and, of course, since she is very definitely one of the terrible twos, screaming.

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