Smash bang crash
He likes to perform smash bang crash, hear and talk about smash bang crash, and think about smash bang crash.
He is attracted to long sticks and pipes (which he uses to thrash the foliage around the property). Sometimes the sticks are swords or light sabres. He likes superhero play - Spiderman swinging from building to building using webs, pirates with swords, Yoda (Aidan) fighting Darth Vader or Count Dooku (Brendon). He likes tackling and play fighting on the carpet with whoever is up for it - whatever their size!
His most recent choices of books from the library were one about the Titanic (a particular fascination with the pictures of the ship breaking up and sinking) and ones about the solar system. He likes the theory of how Saturn got its rings - a comet smashing a moon into smithereens which, attracted by the large planet's gravity, stayed around in circular form. He looks at pictures of planets orbiting the sun, learning each name by heart. He likes to hear about comets blazing through the skies.
Aidan likes to throw things and watch as items fly through space, across floors, onto high places. Balls are good, but random household items are even better, as they tend to attract more adult attention. He likes to take things to pieces, break things apart, and scatter them.
Theoretically, Aidan can be described as expressing two related schema interests - trajectory and disconnection. I was interested to read how our friend Hazel (who is also a trajectory child) has taken up disconnection recently. She's a bit older than Aidan, and her disconnections seem to be taking a slightly different form. They are possibly using similar methods to explore different concepts. However, I wonder if a connection between these two schemas is a common one?
Practically - all this can make Aidan a real handful! Throwing, thwacking and scattering are three things that adults and bystander children can (understandably) find difficult to manage. Redirection seems to help, as does positive attention (catching him doing the socially acceptable versions of smash bang crash and encouraging them, rather than the less desirable manifestations).
I'm really pleased I did a workshop on superhero play and read a book (We don't play with guns here - author forgotten I'm afraid ) on all this while Aidan was still a baby. Recent thought on the kind of robust play that is most commonly (but definitely not exclusively) associated with some boys of a certain age is that it should not be suppressed. Children who are driven to play war games, tackle and the like tend to do it in secret behind the bike shed if it is officially banned. It's thought that instead, this kind of play should take place out in the open where it can be moderated by the supervising adults and some basic rules can be observed and enforced. So embracing smash bang crash helps. Adults who join in with the robust play can help Aidan learn how to smash bang crash in a way that ensures that nobody and nothing gets damaged. Talking and imagining about smash bang crash extends him mentally in a way that he finds captivating and attractive.
So, despite our desire for just a minute's peace and nice quiet children so I can have a cup of tea, it seems to be better in the long term to provide for children to do what children have always done, in a way that keeps everyone happy and safe.
Yes, Aidan can sometimes frustrate me and tire me out. And it's no fun being the parent of the child who's just given another child the bash. But I wouldn't change my cheeky, energetic little rogue for anything! I think our society would be the poorer if we tried to suppress the risk takers, the challengers of authority, those who test and question the limits. As in most things, the challenge is in finding the balance and keeping everyone safe. I sometimes say to Aidan: "Are you using that toy for the power of good or the power of evil?" (He likes and responds to the Star Wars-ish language!) He knows full well that a turn to the dark side results in confiscations and other undesirable consequences.
The next step of course is getting him to internalise the moderation that the supervising adults provide. Many years' work I think! But parenting has always been a marathon rather than a sprint.