We all remember a favorite childhood toy. Something we were likely given as a gift that became our extra appendage, favorite conversation topic or reason for being perpetually late to dinner.
My early favorite toy was a doll named Amy. Amy went everywhere with me, and I told everyone what was happening from her perspective. Yes, Amy was entertaining and kept me busy for hours, but what I gained from Amy was much more than fun. By telling stories from Amy’s perspective, I learned perspective taking and empathy. By copying adults I saw with babies, I learned to care for others who were smaller or more dependent than me. I was not allowed to kick Amy like a ball or color on her like paper, and through that I learned stewardship, responsibility and the value of human life. While I perhaps could have learned these in other ways, I had the pleasure of learning them while having the time of my life with a raggedy and very loved doll.
Play or Science?
I am now a pediatric occupational therapist. Big words, right? It means that I get to work with children who, for some reason or another, are not growing or developing as they should. I have worked in high- and low-income areas of the U.S. and Kenya, providing services in home visits, schools and clinics.