Friday, April 18, 2008

Matchbox Cars

My son loves matchbox cars. At first I was concerned about the fixation on the cars. I mean, isn't it a little OCD to spend hours lining up cars in a row--in the same way in the same order and freaking out if someone comes and messes it up as a two year old? However, we have since discovered other toys we like and his continued obsession with small brightly colored metallic objects with four wheels is echoed by every boy I meet.
So, to all you moms who have boys who are fixated on cars, relax. You may not be aware of all the wonderful language skills and problem solving skills your son is developing while he plays with his cars. As a speech-pathologist I should have arrived at this conclusion earlier. Alas I was blinded by "first-time mom" syndrome and over-looked the positives of such fixations. My son learned categories on many levels. First it was big and little. Then he divided by color. Then we graduated to cars or trucks. Soon after this was mastered, he started dividing according to type--construction, rescue, race cars versus regular cars, transportation, and air and sea. My son learned how to make a straight line. Then he made circles. Then he made parking lots. Then he made traffic jams (also known as "jam traffics"). Now the cars all have stories. First it was plain old jam traffics. Then we graduated to jam traffics at Disney World or Walmart. Then it was traffic jams on the interstate due to a wreck. Now the cars go to the car races and drive in movies. They park at the ocean and at the airport and at the zoo and at the park or at the car wash. My son spends as much time making up the story as he does lining up the cars. My little speech therapy heart is just bursting with pride at his narrative skills (story telling ability).
So for you moms with boys and no prior experience with boys (I only had a sister), take heart in what your son is learning with his cars. It may look like pushing around little plastic things, but I promise those wheels are turning--in the brain and on the floor. For the low price of $4.97 for a 5-pack of cars at your local Walmart, you can create a therapy session on your living room floor. At least until stumbling in the dark to make a bottle for your other son you accidentally step on one and break the wheels off, while bruising the underside of your foot at the same time. I would venture to say even if you swear off cars in the wee hours of the night, by morning you'll be back at Walmart for another one. :-)

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