xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' Yeah. Good Times.: "All Kids Do That" Part 19: Lining Things Up

Thursday, August 2, 2012

"All Kids Do That" Part 19: Lining Things Up

See the tab above for more information about this series.

Apparently I was not finished with this series, although now I have 19 posts, and 19 is not only not an even number, it's a prime number, and I simply cannot have that. So, there will be one more after this, but I think I might write it.

Today we have Mama Meerkat, who blogs at Mindful Meerkats. Go Mama!

Mini Meerkat was my first and only child, so I was a bit perplexed but not unduly alarmed that she didn't play with her toys as an infant. She didn't babble or gurgle or coo either, so I thought maybe she just had better things to do. These things mainly included sleeping, nursing, screaming, puking, and pooping. That was about it, and it continued far past the stage that babies are supposed to start doing more with their lives.

I bought her countless toys, hoping each time that this new toy would The Toy. I tried to engage her, to get her to play, but she just wasn’t interested. When she was evaluated by Early Intervention, I got fed excuses. “Oh well, she’s still so young, just give her time. She’s an only child.” As if that had anything to do with playing with toys? Once she started to interact with objects around her, a pattern appeared. She didn’t quite play, but she spent her time carefully arranging and lining up her toys. Or my shoes. Or sticks. Or leaves. Or anything really. If it could be moved, it could be lined up.

I mentioned it to our Early Intervention developmentalist, and she said,” oh, all kids do that. It’s a phase.”

A year later I mentioned it to her doctor, insisting that she still spent a stunning amount of time lining things up and got very upset if you messed with her lines. She said, “all kids do that, she’s still little.”

Once I even took pictures of all the lines she made. I filled two whole pages with a collage. Neatly arranged Little People animals stretching across my living room floor, sorted by species, and all facing the same direction and little Care Bears parading across the edge of a side table featured heavily. Some days she preferred arcs, but the patterns were always very precise. I took the pages with us to see her neuropsychologist who told us once again that all kids like to line things up at this age. I don’t think she saw the whole picture.

My pictures captured the results, but they failed to capture the process, the deliberation, and the ultimate meltdown if her lines were disturbed.

During her OT evaluation for preschool, the OT took out small wooden blocks and those little plastic bears that OTs always seem to have. Mini Meerkat very carefully and deliberately lined up the blocks while ignoring the OT. Once she had all the blocks in a neat row, she slowly positioned the bears. Each block got one bear, and they all were facing the same direction. Once she was done, she hummed to herself. The OT asked if she could make the bears jump over the blocks. Finally acknowledging the OT, Mini Meerkat scowled and said, “no!” The OT was quiet.

It was the first time that we hadn’t been met with “all kids do that!” in response to Mini Meerkat’s passion for lining up her toys or whatever she could find. Later at a speech evaluation, the speech therapist noted that it wasn’t normal for Mini Meerkat to need to take all the toys out of the bucket, sort, and arrange them before she even considered playing with them.

Now, even at 3.5 years old she loves to arrange and line up her toys. Nobody is saying much now. Some behaviors are age appropriate, but when they continue it can be concerning. Despite getting brushed off, I knew that something wasn’t quite right with the tenacity of her lining. Trust your gut, mamas. Not all kids do that.