A mother is traditionally made feel guilty about leaving her child for a long day in the nursery. Number One’s normal day there is about 10 hours. I duly take him in exactly after 7.30 am and collect him about quarter to six. A few times I have had to run in order to be in the nursery before that magical boundary of 6 pm.
Nothing prepared us for the disappointment Number One Son had when he was not taken to the nursery on a Saturday. He threw a mini-tantrum but by Sunday he had luckily forgotten the matter. However, we immediately realised what had caused this sudden response. Number One Son recently moved upstairs to the pre-school premises and encountered new play environment. There are also new toys, among which it turned out a ten-year old McQueen from the original Pixar’s Cars movie.
Nevertheless, this McQueen is a blue Dynaco one (you know if you have seen the movie – if you have not you probably are not a parent...). Thus, he can separate his time with a red McQueen at home and a blue one in the nursery. He has a strong emotional attachment for both car toys and he keeps looking them. One day I left him looking for the car with a nursery assistant.
As an archaeologist one rarely gets a more direct reminder of all those theoretical treatise about the importance of material objects in human cultural encounters. Objects are given value and they may even act as living creatures in some relationships. Number One Son’s cars have discussions with each other, and even if we did not allow him to take the red McQueen in the nursery in the fear he may lose it he clearly would like to present the red and the blue car to each other. In his mind they are real and any misplacement is sorely felt.