Watching Little Chick start to play independently is amazing. It’s fantastic because it gives us a break – we knew introductions were tiring but the bone tiredness has only just hit us after three weeks of feeling fine. More importantly, he is showing confidence: confidence in his ability to play alone and confidence that we are here even if we’re not directly interacting with him or in his immediate eye line. The latter shows that he is beginning to trust us and feel comfortable with us. We are taking teensy tiny baby steps towards good attachment.
Playing independently is developing a whole range of skills – communication, cognitive, critical thinking, and motor skills. Particularly he is developing his imaginative play. We have been careful not to overwhelm him with new toys and have primarily played with his toys that he brought from his foster home. But the biggest hit, which has delighted me as much as it has him, is Happyland.
Happyland is ELC’s range of preschool figures and settings that mimic the real world and enable children to explore their surroundings. This is especially valuable to Little Chick in this period of change. The miniature world mirrors his own and the characters discover new things as he does.
Little Chick has begun acting out scenarios, most of which echo the past few weeks: walking outside; eating at the table; playing together. Nothing remarkable but, clearly, they have influenced Little Chick.
He has designated some of the characters to be us, though only his bears any resemblance, and even that is only because it is bespectacled. Though the likeness is questionable I am chuffed that he is naming us and including us. More than that, he is naming us Mummy and Mama (I am Mummy; the Other Mrs Reed Warbler is Mama).
Initially, we were both Mummy, and this was conveyed in his introductions book and video. Speaking theoretically about ‘your two mummies’ (as Little Chick’s foster carer did) is straightforward. Real life application is trickier. Even by the end of our first hour with Little Chick we realised that the duplication was confusing. We had considered this before making the introductions book and had considered ways to differentiate; sharing initials we struggled to find anything simple that would distinguish us. Little Chick has made the distinction himself, organically, which pleases me. We always said we would be led by him and we have honoured that. And he has solved a problem quickly and without fuss.
Little Chick calls his Happyland collection ‘people’, even though the buildings, vehicles, animals, and accessories outnumber the human characters. He is focusing on the people, on the relationships they are building. He is playing out the events of today with his small plastic people. He is reflecting on the huge changes in his life through tiny figures. The people are helping him.