Day 151: When Cesar gets it ‘wrong’

I often babysit Cesar in the afternoons while Leila is exercising and taking care of Charlie, her other baby (her horse :) ). Cesar likes being outside and amongst the dogs the most, but when it is cold or rainy, we’ll look for things to do in his room. One of the activities he’s been more interested in recently is playing with blocs, like duplo blocks or blocks that have a hole of a particular shape in them that he ‘has to’ then hang around a little tower of a particular shape. One thing here is that it is fascinating how we take our motoric skills for granted. It seems so easy to just put two duplo blocks together and make them stick and then start building a house or a plane or a tower or just some random figure. We don’t remember that at some point in our lives, we didn’t have the skills to do that and that we walked a process of continuous trial and error that demanded a lot of concentration on our part to slowly start developing the muscles and flexibility to put two duplo blocks together and make them stick the way you want them to.

So, Cesar is now walking that process of developing these motoric skills with lots of trial and error. Now, I started noticing an interesting experience within myself when I would see Cesar struggle or ‘get it wrong’. I noticed it first on a physical level, like a contraction in my solar plexus area and I would ‘hold my breath’ ever so slightly. In looking at it more closely, I could see that fear of ‘getting it wrong’ and wanting to prevent Cesar from ‘getting it wrong’.

So – what does ‘getting it wrong’ even mean – there’s several scenarios I’m referring to with that, from where I will see his actions/attempts as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.

One is when he is for instance playing with the blocs that have holes of a particular shape in them, that he has to pull/drop over a tower of the matching shape. So, the block with the circular hole goes over the circular tower, the block with the rectangular hole goes over the rectangular tower etc. For me as an adult, I can see at first glance which shape he will be able to pull/drop over which tower and I also understand that this is the purpose of the game, that this is what it is designed for. As Cesar is picking up the shapes and turning them around, banging them together, tossing them across the room, he is just exploring these objects and what he can do with it. But with me understanding the ‘purpose’ of the game, I see it as the ‘wrong thing to do’ and I kind of become impatient, because I just really want him to ‘get’ that he can put these shapes over the towers! Because from my perspective, he hasn’t really ‘gotten the right answer’ until he realizes that the shapes are ‘supposed to’ go over the tower, lol.

So, here – I was projecting the idea that Cesar would feel proud of himself after having figured out that he could make the pieces fit over the towers. Here, actually, projecting my own experience when ‘getting something right’ and the belief that something is not worth doing and a waste of my time. I would have to resist the urge to show Cesar how to place the blocks over the tower, lol. But those ideas, beliefs and desires didn’t exist in Cesar – he was just exploring and here I was wanting to steer and limit his activity towards only one possible option of how to play with blocks.

I’ll continue in my next post.


  1. Es un verdadero placer observar a Cesar jugar o a cualquier nino que este descubriendo no solo su universo sino el universo que le rodea ; ya que observar a los ninos se convierte en toda una experiencia para un adulto.
    Yo aprendo mucho viendo jugar a los ninos sobre todo cuando experimentan sus logros. Gracias Maite

  2. Cool observations to see through someone else's eyes