xi  Foreword When my children were toddlers, here is how we would play: we’d go into the playroom, and they would start dumping out things that interested them. There would be blocks, puzzles, dolls, cars, little pots and pans, plastic vegetables, magic wands, balls, stacking cups—in retro- spect, just way the heck too much stuff. I’d join them for a few minutes, then I’d start trying to put everything back where it belonged. If Abby was playing with blocks, I had a moment to put the cars back in their bins. If she moved to cooking, I could tuck the dolls in their beds. I would pair little rubber bear cubs with slightly larger rubber mama bears, capes with wands, sorting shapes with shape sorters. Developmental pediatricians call this behavior “parallel play.” Psychia- trists call it “obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.” As parents, we all want to give our children everything they need to succeed. The problem is that we often give them the wrong things. How else to explain how we ended up with not one but two “Old MacDonald” tractors, each with its own plastic barn animals, lights, and noises? Neither one got more than a few seconds’ attention from the kids, but, darn it, I kept each one with its own farmer, cow, pig, and chicken right up until they went to Goodwill Industries or, as we called it, “the farm.” As a pediatrician and now a parent of teenagers, I have a message for you: don’t make it so complicated. What toddlers need to build the skills to succeed in life are not tablets or apps or plastic barn animals that make sounds when you plug them into a battery-powered tractor. As you will see in this book, they need a little attention from you, along with a smattering of items that you’ll mainly find in your household recycling bin. RETRO_TODDLER_INTERIOR.indd 11 2/27/18 9:06 AM
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