Play beans seemed like such a good idea — inexpensive sensory play, totally simple and absorbing and engaging. When I first put together my little play bean kit (when Nathan was two), it consisted of several pounds of dried beans and some containers from Goodwill, and I loved it. Simple! Engaging! Over time it has morphed into a big plastic tub of beans, with a sheet to be spread beneath the tub for (theoretically) easy cleanup, but the core (the beans) remains the same. It is still simple and engaging.
And messy. Because no matter how assiduously I hover over the children involved, whether they’re one year old or eight, there is a very limited span of time in which they’re happy with the beans being in the bin. Then other questions surface: Can I pour these out? Splash in them? Throw them? Stomp them? Pretend that my hand is lightning striking them?
I’ve come to really hate those beans.
Which is why, after reluctantly pulling them out again a few weeks ago, I came to a decision: they have to go. They’d been sitting in the bottom of the closet for so long, with my discouraging their use, that I finally admitted I will never want them out. I hate scraping them off the carpet. I hate the fact that for weeks after every use, beans pop up in random places. When Mica started picking them out of her diaper, I realized that this was stupid. It might be wonderful, healthy sensory play, the sort that every parenting magazine seems to think is love-in-a-bucket, but I am just not the sort of parent that grins and shrugs at beans all over the place.
Initially I just wanted to dump them, but then I realized I might be able to get one last bit of use from them. So I planned a grand finale for the beans, with the absolute most important requirement that it take place outside. We’ve had two 90-degree days lately, so why not?
I added water to the bin as an extra incentive and let the kids loose on them. This time there was no reason to hold back. Throw them, kids! Scatter them everywhere! Let them sprout into lawnmower-chow!