I would have thought that 31 years of life experience would have a creative edge over three years of life experience.
In other words, I expected to be a whole lot better at “pretend play” than my preschooler is. At the very least, I should be on par.
I’ve already admitted that pretending is not my favorite way to play. But still, I try. After all, sucking it up and getting down on the floor to act out some sort of illogical scenario is still (slightly) better than parking him in front of the TV all day.
The thing is, he’s so much better at it than I am.
Here’s what I do: I pick up a dinosaur, knock on the door of the “house” we’ve built with Magna Tiles and announce my presence. Usually, I say something like, “Hello, is anyone in there? It’s me, Parasaurolophus!* I’ve come for the party! I brought cupcakes. May I come in, Triceratops?”
But the triceratops doesn’t hear me because apparently he’s already snuck out the back of the house and jumped onto a giant airplane, which Ryan is now flying around the living room as he yells, “OH NO! TRICERATOPS IS GONNA FALL OFF!” We needn’t worry, though, cuz all of a sudden, a shark comes soaring up from the floor to chomp on the wing of the offending airplane and wrestle it to the ground, effectively saving triceratops as I exclaim, “Wow, what an unlikely turn of events! Seriously, where can I put these cupcakes?”
Dude is creative. In his world, throw pillows are giant pancakes. Rugs are mud pits. A clothing hamper is Oscar the Grouch’s garbage can.
When you ask him to name a plastic Lego guy, he doesn’t choose something obvious like “Guy” or “Ryan” or “Daddy.” He names him Trent.**
He can’t simply pick out books to read before his nap. He must first pretend to purchase the books from the “grocery store” and then surprise me with them.
Many times throughout the day, his eyes light up as he yells something totally random like “Hey, I know! You be the octopus! I’ll be the fish! Let’s go hide!”
I’m realizing that you can’t learn to be that creative. I don’t think life experience makes one bit of difference. It’s either innately in you or it’s not. It’s not in me and I’ve always wished it were. To see it in my son is the next best thing.
No, actually, it’s better.
I expect to spend the rest of my life in awe of him. First as a silly kid who creates hilariously weird games, then as an adult who finds creative solutions to the world’s problems or creates wonderfully unique art.
In the meantime … is it just me or does “You be the Octopus; I’ll be the Fish” sound like an awesome memoir title?
*I should at least get points for knowing my dinosaurs.
**No, we don’t know a single “Trent” in real life.
I'm Meghan. I grew up in Ohio, came of age in Arizona and am now raising a family in Pennsylvania. I'm a freelance writer, an essayist and a stay-at-home mom to a spirited four-year-old boy. We're on a journey to adopt our second child through the foster care system. I'm told I am too organized and too sarcastic for my own good but I don't see how either is possible.
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