What is it with children and keys?
When they’re babies, keys are shiny, mirrors, and noisy. A distraction from teething, crying, chewing. Something to hold and tug on instead of jewellery. N wasn’t really given keys to play with at that age as he had plenty of other things he liked to fiddle with and chew.
Toddlers like keys, again for the noise. Also for sticking them into places they shouldn’t…plus sockets maybe? Thankfully N didn’t really get into prodding things into sockets. He preferred removing and replacing the actual plugs where he could, and the cable from my laptop.
But now as a pre-schooler, keys have become even more important to him. Keys are part of role play. They mean something to him and that’s about feeling like he’s doing what daddy does – using the keys to start the tractor, the quad bike or mower. and being like mummy, driving the car.
This is all very well, but I don’t really understand why a toy key doesn’t suffice. N had a cosy coupe key that floats around the house. He also had a wooden magnetic one from a fishing set which fits perfectly into his tractor ‘ignition’ hole. But these aren’t the ones he used. No, it has to be the proper car keys (along with the keyring with my mum’s house key and my work locker key).
A couple of times I’ve had a panic on the way out of the door in the mornings, wondering where on earth he’d left my keys the night before. Of course, they’re never left in the tractor. Cue me trying to get him to remember where he’s left them. The OH tells me to put them out of his reach, but he can climb to reach things high up, he goes into my bag to get them, and if I hide them somewhere, I’ll forget where they are. I must find some way of reducing his interest in them as I do waste a lot of time trying to find them.
Of course, keys still mean a lot to children as they grow up into adulthood. Teens getting keys to the house means freedom and independence, through to leaving home (possibly, hopefully), and having your own house keys symbolises growing up and responsibility.
Here’s hoping my son finds his own keys to use soon enough so I can permanently retrieve mine from his clutches.
It seems that toddlers quite often get obsessed about something, and that love for a topic or item can continue for years. Although scientists suggest most interests phase out between 3 months to 5 years.
Do your children like keys?