The Weird Things I Find Around The House

There’s an amusing blog post at BabyCenter about “baby crop circles,” which the author describes as odd arrangements of items — little shrines of sort — that appear out of nowhere and without explanation as the result of toddler activity. If I wanted to get all sciency, I’d speculate that these arrangements are probably physical manifestations of a toddler’s emerging sense of heuristics and increasing ability to categorize items and recognize the relationships between them. It’s late at night, though, and my brain hurts, so I’m just going to leave the explanation alone and call the arrangements as I see them: interesting, funny, weird, sometimes profound, and sometimes downright baffling.

W and the duck lineup.

For about a month now, W has been arranging her bath toys in a particular way each night. She has a veritable flotilla of little plastic animals that join her in the tub, three of which happen to be ducks. Each night, the three ducks are carefully extracted from the swarm of floating fauna and made to perch on the edge of the tub  [insert joke about “having all her ducks in a row” here]. I suppose if she were a little older, I’d find this nothing more than an amusing quirk, or perhaps a sign that she was particularly fond of ducks (which she is). Two things, however, combine to make the nightly duck arrangement remarkable in my eyes. First, only a few months ago, she demonstrated no understanding of categories whatsoever; there was no indication that she’d begun to develop heuristics for mentally sorting items into groups of similars. Second, the three ducks are all different. One is large and yellow, one is small and yellow, and one is small and white, and wears a scarf and a jaunty hat. In the last few months, she’s gone from seeing the three ducks as nothing more than three anonymous and dissimilar bath toys to seeing them as belonging in the same category, and knowing the name of the category is DUCKS. She demonstrates the former by placing them — and only them, of all her bath toys — on the edge of the tub every night. She demonstrates the latter by pointing to them when I ask where are your ducks? She’ll also point out the duck that covers the tub spout, ducks in books, ducks in pictures, and so forth. She’s begun making a cute little WUK WUK sound when she shows me a duck (not sure if this is her saying duck or quack). Anyway, on the surface, the duck-sorting is cute. On a deeper level, it’s a pretty awesome indication that her brain is maturing.

[Sigh. I said I wasn’t going to get all sciency about this, but because I am inescapably me, I went there anyway.]

Tickle Monster on a placemat with a cell phone. That sounds like a code phrase, doesn't it?

So the duck thing makes sense to me; I can see what she’s doing and why. There are other “baby crop circles” that I find around the house, though, that I completely fail to understand. The other night, for instance, I put W to bed and came out to the kitchen once she was asleep. There, I found an interesting arrangement. In the middle of the floor was a placemat. W’s been obsessed with this particular placemat lately; at first, she liked to put it on the floor and dance on it. That turned into putting it on the floor and sitting on it while she ate. This particular night, she apparently decided it was a good spot for her mama-made Tickle Monster, with which she’d been playing before bed; I found him placed carefully in the center of the placemat. Lest he get lonely, she’d also given him her (currently) very favorite toy: a little cell phone that opens and closes. She’s pretty anal retentive about the cell phone (where does she get that, I wonder!?), and always keeps it closed when she’s not “talking” on it. She opened it for Tickle Monster and set it next to him so he could…I don’t know…phone home? Or maybe it was his job to guard the phone for her, lest someone touch it while she slept (she’s been a possessive little thing lately). Anyway, though the arrangement defied explanation, it was clearly made purposefully. These sorts of things make me wish she was possessed of verbal abilities that more closely matched her mental development, because I’d really, REALLY like to be able to ask her what the heck that was about.


The domino troll hanging out in the one does...

Whether I analyze her behavior in my typical sciency-geeky way, or just sit back and enjoy watching my daughter grow and learn, it amazes me to see the changes day-to-day. We fairly regularly visit my parents, who also have a flotilla of bath toys for W (my only sibling is childless, and I didn’t procreate until well into my 30s, so my parents’ enthusiasm at the introduction of a grandchild into their lives has been…shall we say…substantial). Among the myriad creatures in the tub at Nana’s house are a mallard duck (white with a green head) and a swan with a very poorly-cast and decidedly ducky beak. Having been told about the duck arranging, my mother produced a third specimen to join W in the bath, this one yellow with a red beak and a large pair of retro sunglasses. None of the three looked much like W’s ducks from home — the sunglasses duck, in particular, called to mind a number of Tom Cruise films from the early 80s — so I was surprised when, during a bath at Nana’s house two weeks ago, W lined up the mallard and the duck-billed-swan on the bathtub. The “Risky Business” duck was not deemed sufficiently duck-ish, apparently. Last week, however, he made the cut, and joined the others on the edge of the tub. In just a week’s time, she’s learned that sunglasses can hide eyes, just as hats can hide heads. As such, apparently, a sunglasses-wearing duck should be just as much a part of the gang as the scarf-and-hat duck is. I don’t know…maybe I’m a real geek to think this is cool, but what can I say? Watching my daughter grow and learn — and seeing the little shrines she builds and sorting games she engages in that demonstrate how she’s changing — is awesome. Well, usually awesome, anyway. I do sometimes go to the pantry for a plastic storage container to put the leftovers into after dinner, only to find that she’s moved them all and re-sorted them into a variety of drawers and bins throughout the house. And I always have to check the contents of her hamper carefully before I put the clothes in the wash; she tends to use it as a place to stash blocks. And there’s a little wooden fellow — we call him the domino troll because he inexplicably came packaged in a box of dominoes — who is transplanted to any number of places around the house on a daily basis. I never know when I’m going to open the diaper drawer and see him peering up at me, move furniture to vacuum and unwittingly discover his hiding place, or go to put on a bra only to find him lurking. Still, bra-trolls aside, one thing is clear: toddlerhood is a wild and amazing ride. Every day is hilarious and frustrating, amazing and exhausting, awe-inspiring and mystifying. For both of us.


What surprises have you found around the house?



5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ashley
    Jun 04, 2012 @ 10:14:34

    We always knew when our nephew had been around, because we’d find things like a jellybean in a glass of water, or a spool of ribbon tied around the leg of the table. And whenever something is missing, one of our first places to check is the large vase in the living room. That’s a favorite hiding spot and it’s pretty funny the number of times we’ve actually found what we were looking for there.


  2. Ashley @ C is for Cockerham
    Jun 04, 2012 @ 10:43:27

    We’re on a duck kick around here too. I love when T stumbles across a photo of one in a book or on a toy and immediately does his “ack ack” sound. He was signing for it, but sadly, that has stopped. Maybe because he can better verbalize duck now?

    We have ducks that live at the pond nearby, and one of them has chosen our flower bed as her nest. We have four duck eggs! I can’t wait for Tully to watch the eggs these next few weeks and then see the baby ducks. I feel like it’s going to totally rock his little toddler duck world!


    • SquintMom
      Jun 04, 2012 @ 10:59:06

      Our duckling season is a little earlier than yours; it was a few months ago. W was INSANE about feeding them!


  3. Kylie
    Jun 04, 2012 @ 18:14:56

    My little guy (19 months) has been arranging toy dishes in the cupboards of his toy kitchen. His other favorite way to rearrange things is to throw them over the baby gate into the hallway: toys, tupperware, socks… there is no rhyme or reason to it.


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