My daughter invited me into her new playhouse today.
“Knock, knock,” I rapped on the cloth front door. “May I come in please?”
She beamed as I got on my hands and knees and crawled through the very small front door and shut it behind me. “Oh, what a nice house!” I took my seat next to the stuffed bear.
The first item on her agenda was a “nap.” My daughter was even kind enough to throw a blanket over my head as she said “Night, night Mommie.”
Next, she made tea, serving it from her tea cart along with a delicious concoction that she had whipped up using the stove in the playhouse.
After that we played some music and spent time dancing with each other and various “babies” and stuffed friends. Then we twirled. And twirled. And twirled.
“You look tired.” My husband said as he joined us downstairs.
“Well, all this playing is awfully hard work. I’m exhausted.” I collapsed onto the basement sofa.
My daughter is at the age where her imagination is blossoming, and imitative free play is absolutely essential for her development. For her, and for all children, play is work. And, it is exhausting.
My husband and I are fortunate that we get to participate in her imaginary world. She invites us into her “house”, serves us “food”, introduces us to her “babies” and gives us a fresh perspective on life and the world around us. It is exhausting.
Every so often I would think of the laundry that needed to be done or the spots on the floor in the kitchen. But, the dirty laundry wasn’t going to get up and walk off (unfortunately), and I was not worried about missing the opportunity to clean the kitchen floor. The dirt would not be moving along without me, but my daughter will grow up and move along—with or without me. So I did the responsible thing: I played.
I kneeled on the floor, grabbed a “butterfly net” and helped my daughter catch the butterflies that flew out of the elephant’s trunk. (I need the eye-hand-coordination practice, as it turns out.)
Then my daughter crawled through her five-foot long Dora the Explorer tunnel, sporting a playful, “Mommie catch me” smile. So, I followed her through the tunnel. About half-way through, my daughter seemed concerned. “Mommie uck [stuck]?”
She bent down, peered through the end of the tunnel and reached out a hand. “Ughh.” She groaned as she pulled on my fingers.
Later, after I had successfully negotiated the tunnel, my husband and I were in my daughter’s bedroom where my daughter was busy “reading” books to her large stuffed panda bear. “Monkey.” She pointed to a picture in the book as she sat in the panda’s lap. “Eek, eek, eek”.
“Lion. Roar. Dolphin…”
“Dolphin?” I looked incredulously at my husband. “When did she learn dolphin? That picture has always been a fish.”
My husband shrugged his shoulders.
“Ball.” She pointed to another picture. “One…two…three…four…”
“Four?” My husband asked.
“One…two…three…four…five…six…” She pointed to the eggs that Bert was juggling in the picture.
“Six? Did you hear that? She just counted to six. On her own.”
We sat amazed, listening to discover just what else our daughter had learned when we weren’t looking. She’s growing up. Sometimes I just want to freeze these moments, to hold them forever and never let them go. But, if I did that, I wouldn’t get to see the next amazing development.
Eventually, my daughter will probably be a little less than delighted when I knock on her bedroom door and say “May I come in please?” But for now, she’s happy to invite me in and throw a blanket over my head as she says “Night, night Mommie”.
© 2008,2009 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.