A strange but wondrous thing recently happened in the presidential race. The spokesperson for Mitt Romney recently playfully compared the 2012 Election to an Etch A Sketch toy, predicting that the slate of primary issues would be wiped clean once his candidate faced President Obama in the fall. Rivals Rick Santorum (left) and Newt Gingrich (right) used the metaphor to mock Romney, alleging that HE was the embodiment of the toy and that you could shake him up and erase his positions if the polls aren’t going his way.
For a brief moment, I don’t see a political fight in the photo montage above. I see two grown men playing with toys.
There are millions of parents like me who grew up fiddling with an Etch A Sketch. Trying to coordinate the right and left knobs perfectly so the vertical and horizontal controls produce diagonals…. It’s not as easy as it looks (You can try the tablet online here by using the arrows on your keyboard).
One of the great job benefits of being a nanny or au pair is the high percentage of time devoted to play. This element might sometimes be forgotten when you are managing three screaming toddlers in a minivan on the way to the supermarket, but there is a higher percentage of fun associated with this job than many other careers.
Yes, nannies are there to make sure kids are safe, and eat right, and do their homework — virtually the same set of responsibilities as parenting — but the ideal nanny should show her entertainer side more often than her drill sergeant side. (As an aside, eNanny Source membership includes interview guidelines and hiring tips for when you are screening candidates for personality traits).
Hiring a nanny who truly enjoys playing is essential for finding the right match with your kids. Numerous studies have shown that playtime isn’t simply a way to pass time and keep the little ones busy, but that it plays a key role in emotional, social and intellectual growth and development.
- According to this NPR report, imaginative play is “a powerful tool for building self-discipline is because during make-believe, children engage in what’s called private speech: They talk to themselves about what they are going to do and how they are going to do it.”
- The Chronicle for Higher Education found that trying to completely replace unstructured free playtime with “educational activities” is ultimately counterproductive. Play reduces stress, improves children’s social skills and behavior as well as sharpens their memory recall.
- Researcher Stuart Brown, of the National Institute of Play, has discovered a strong correlation between happiness and self-fulfillment in adults and their continued pursuit of play.
On that last note, maybe it’s a blessing that our politicians are pulling out the Etch A Sketch!
Which toys from your playroom do you think might show up on the nightly news next? My bet is the board game “Operation” when the debate over national health care inevitably resurfaces.