"You can be a bad guy, but you still need to touch me gently."
Thinking about that after I said it was one of those moments where you realized a greater meaning in my words. Melinda had also just walked by as I sat on the floor of the bathroom. She repeated what I said and it started to sink in.
There is a theme of bad guy play at Tumbleweeds. It has trickled in to the Infant House from the Preschool house. There are families of bad guys, bad guys who chase away monsters, bad guys who are captured by the police and there is something very big about saying "I'm a bad guy!" while rushing around with a long stick.
There is no play which is off limits and we build the expectation for basic safety and awareness of others in all that we do. Yes you can shoot, but listen when someone says "Don't shoot me!". Yes that long stick feels so good to swing around, but be aware of who and what is around you so no one is hurt and nothing is damaged. Yes you can bang that pot as loudly as you like or scream, but look and watch to see what effect it has.
I get very uncomfortable when I am called a bad guy or even when the children call themselves a bad guy. "You're a bad guy," they say. I think that uncomfortable feeling is the key to the need for this type of play. When I get that uneasy feeling my first reaction is to stop whatever is happening, so I have challenged myself as the boys become full fledged 2 year olds to stop and see what the root of this play is.
Their real questions are constantly, "What is the limit?" and "Will you help me help myself?" They discover it for themselves through their play and through our conversations. Every day we know more about who and what a bad guy can and cannot be, while also learning about ourselves.