Feeling tired and looking for inspiration, I turned to the box of un-albumed pictures (15 years’ worth) next to my desk and pulled out this one:
Here sits King William, at the age of four, with his boppy pillow and ever-present royal purple towel, treasures arrayed before him.
I had a vivid fantasy life myself as a child, so I have delighted in the rich imaginary lives my kids have all led. Would that my pictures were organized so that I could illustrate some of the following examples! Emily could pretend that any object was something else. She did not need Disney action figures or Barbie dolls (although she had plenty!); I recall her at the age of two assigning identities to a hairbrush and a can of harispray before engaging them in a dialogue!
Jake and Teddy were more inclined toward games of pretend that involved assuming new identities themselves. One of Jake’s most prized possessions at the age of seven or so was his leather jacket that was exactly like the one worn by Indiana Jones. He had the whip to go along with it as well. Teddy took things to new extremes. For a solid year and a half, he wore a Hercules costume night and day. It had to be replaced three times–luckily Party City stores these things during the off season! Then he became Zorro, and roamed the streets in black rainboots, turtle neck, and sweat pants, wearing Zorro’s hat and mask. Finally he took to wearing a Harry Potter robe and glasses, which actually landed him a brief t.v. spot when we were on Market Square on evening for Sundown in the City!
William did not even need a full costume for his games of pretend. For about a year he was a mommy, which worried his father somewhat–until he got a toy grill for his birthday and then decided he was now a daddy! After that for many months he was a pirate named Captain Cutler, and woe betide anyone who called him by his given name. After awhile it was natural to call for Captain Cutler when we wanted him. He went everywhere with us with his long purple towel held around his neck with a diaper pin, alternately being a king or a vampire. Even today, at 9.5 years of age, he frequently runs around in circles making explosive noises and I’m not sure what he thinks he is.
Lorelei tends to follow William’s lead in games, being whatever he says they are supposed to be. She has never taken to wearing strange garments around town. Like Emily, she is more likely to pretend with objects–as I write she is playing with my collection of original Fisher Price Little People toys–the village, I believe, by the ringing I’m hearing.
I was always happy–never embarrassed–to let the kids carry their make believe identities into the real world. We all try on various masks throughout our lives, right? Children are just a little more obvious about it.
Update: I wish I still had that box of pictures. I spent several days organizing them all–17 years’ worth–in preparation for putting them in albums only to have the entire box consumed by fire in September 2011.
I’m going to link this up with the #WorthRevisit folks today. Theology is a Verb and Reconciled to You host this awesome weekly roundup of posts from the past. You can see more by clicking the picture above!