I look through my telescope and I can see a beautiful parrot. Red and blue and yellow feathers. I can hear a stream nearby making it’s way through the lush vegetation around me. Somewhere a primate calls out. The expedition leader is right by my side whispering what he sees in his telescope as well.
We gingerly take a few more steps through the undergrowth when the leader suddenly announces that we’re being chased. We run as fast as we can through the ferns and thick undergrowth. Vines slap me across the face and I’m having a difficult time keeping up. The leader darts to the right in front of me and I follow. He’d found a cave! Perhaps we’ll lose whatever was on our tail.
Breathing heavily we look at each other and grin. The eyes of my leader are bright and full of life as the 3 year old mind processes the pretend adventure we are on. That’s right, my living room was the jungle, two empty toilet papter rolls our binoculars, the animals complete figments of our imaginations and our cave… a blanket draped over a massage table in the middle of the room.
Fostering a child’s imagination by pretend play prepares them for so many things in life. It instills the idea that nothing is impossible. It helps them problem solve and use critical thinking. In this particular pretend play event I was the follower of my child. Allowing him to take the lead and direct our play. Getting down on his level and seeing things through his eyes connects us in new ways as parent and child.
My favorite part of this whole scene was that I was taking an active roll in his life. I wasn’t sitting side line watching him play on his own or worse just plopping him in front of a show (which happens in our home 🙁 ). I was playing with him. I was investing time in his imaginative growth and tying strings so that later when he really needs me, I won’t be a stranger.
When I take time to do things like this with him, I find that he plays on his own better too. When it’s time for mama to cook supper, he’s more likely to contentedly play on his own rather than being whiny and overly underfoot. Instead, he’s had time invested in him and feels secure and loved enough to enjoy his own play time while mama works.
Days at home being mama, maid, cook, laundromat, doctor, teacher, etc etc etc is not easy. It is hard to fit everything in that we are supposed to. It really only takes 10-20 minutes to invest in your child’s play and tie strings with him or her. And… you just might have fun doing it!