Monday, January 3, 2011

Puppet Power

Move over, Martha, this mom has made something magnificent. 

I’m not sure if it was the pauper penny-pincher in me or the part of me with a pension for things homemade that prompted me to put together a puppet for my one-year-old.  The idea was to make use of some mismatched fleece socks.  The fingers of a striped glove would do for antlers or a gullet.  The red and beige plaid cotton left from some curtains would make a fine mouth on the dark brown sock I had chosen.  Perhaps a touch more plaid for a scarf.  I stitched in a beige nose, and put on buttons for eyes.  Add the purple striped antlers get some name feedback from your Facebook friends,  and Voila! You have Rudy the Rad Reindeer. 

Hand puppets present a powerful world of possibilities when it comes to play.  From the time my tot was a tummy-timer unable to crawl he has been fascinated by the voices that animate my toes- - his first toys.   Seeing him erupt in beautiful, ear-to-ear laughter was fodder enough to encourage my silliness.  Toes make terrific toys.  They never get lost, are always within reach, and the possibilities are endless when it comes to voice-over shape shifting magic.   My fear of toe jam diminished when I witnessed the serotonin surging in my son’s soul.  Serotonin, the happiness hormone, plays an important role in the immune system.   The antibodies from nursing and a steady supplemental diet of laughter have kept Cayce in stellar health.  Believe me, it is not my fearsome housekeeping that keeps the boy healthy.  Silliness and song, furry friends with sweet and gravely voices have been the ticket. 

Rudy the Rad Reindeer has proven to be hands down one of my son’s most beloved Christmas gifts, and the only one that cost absolutely nothing.  With his big plaid mouth Rudy nibbles and names all of the parts of Cayce’s face, and squeezes his dimpled, laughing cheeks.  Cayce is fascinated by the relationship between Rudy and me.  He loves nothing more than to pull the talking, lip-chomping puppet off my hand and watch him “deflate” and become lifeless.  Then he hands him right back to me, to my wiggling fingers and my scratchy, “Rudy” voice, to watch him return to life again.

Rudy loses his meaning if left in a toy box or upon a shelf.  He requires the active participation of a parent.  It requires one to commit to the child’s world, and to leave the petty, pedantic, and sometimes plain paranoid part of parenting behind.  It is the two-way dynamic that makes a puppet such an engaging toy for a child.  So go ahead and get goofy.  Make your voice squeak or scratch or sigh or giggle.  Give your hand (or toe) a little wiggle, and let the laughter commence!           

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