X-Ray Car Technician

I love it when kids merge the toys I have at different areas of my room. He merged the car table and my wooden “tools” and began pretending to use a screwdriver and a hammer on the cars. “The cars are broken,” he said. “Fix, fix.”

I sat down beside him and handed him another car. “This one’s broken too,” I said, joining in his play. I began voicing the ‘car’, or the car’s customer. “Hey, my purple car is broken, can you please fix it, sir?”

“I’ll fix it,” he said. He was using one hand to hold the car and the other to poke it with a screwdriver. It was just pretend, as the screwdriver was very large and the car very small. “Fix, fix.”

I loved the pretend play. I wondered if there was a way to expand the fine motor benefits of this play. With smaller screwdrivers, we could’ve actually taken a toy car apart, but I didn’t have any smaller tools.

I thought of a different way. I grabbed my drawing tablet (a “boogie board” — given to me by one of you, from my amazon list. Thank you! <3 ) I held it up to another toy car and went “Kshhhhh” like a “taking a picture” noise. Then I very quickly drew a verrrryyyy simple car on it — just a semicircle with two round wheels. “I took an X-ray of the car,” I said. “It’ll tell us what’s wrong with the car.” Then I drew an X on the tire. “Oh no. The tire is flat.”

ID: a close-up of the pink “boogie board” drawing tablet that we played this game with. Its screen is all black except for a rainbow-drawn, very simple car with an X on its wheel.

I didn’t know if he was buying it. He didn’t give much indication he heard me. He took the next toy car from me and went, “Fix, fix.”

“Thank you,” I said.

He paused. “Well, what’s the next car wrong with?”

Now I knew he had bought into my game. I grabbed another car from the pile. “Kshhhhh.” Drew a new car. “Uh oh, the engine has a problem.” I drew an X vaguely in the front of the car.

He nodded solemnly and took the car from me. “Fix, fix.”

Then—magic. Then he took the tablet from me. (Yesssss!) I was too slow and not imaginative enough in my car problems. He drew a car on it and drew an X. “Back seat is broken, I’ll fix it. Fix, fix.” He took another car, erased the drawing, drew a new one. “The steering wheel got broken, I’ll fix it. Fix, fix.”

He didn’t ask me to participate in the play again. I sat there and observed quietly. If he looked at me for acknowledgement, I acknowledged usually by echoing the last thing he had just said, or something like, “Oh, thanks for fixing it.”

Now I had very gently suggested—modelled, not required—a way in which drawing and writing (the letter X) could be a part of the game. That means that if he played something like this later, on his own, then the writing and drawing practice might be part of the idea. He made up the game, he pioneered it, and he considered my modelled suggestion and incorporated it, all himself. It was never required and not academic, just a part of authentically delightful play.



ID: my car table and another low table next to it. The car table has a half-printed, half-hand painted black dotted line road on it for cars to go around, and the other low table has wooden tools like a wrench, hammer, screwdriver, etc. Toy cars are scattered across both tables.