Thursday, February 25, 2010

I'm No Princess, But I Can Eat Invisible Food

I know there was a time - a pitifully far distant time - when I knew how to play make believe.

Today, this is how I pretend...
Cecily comes at me with a miniature bowl and spoon.
She shoves the spoon into my mouth,
and I say "Mmmmm" and pretend to chew whatever piece of delectable, albeit invisible food she just gave me.

The End

My kids must think I am so totally hopeless. "Mom doesn't even know how to be Princess Lea, or Queen Amadala, or Mary Lennox, or little Laura Ingles Wilder."
"Yeah," the other responds, "all she knows how to be is Mom."
Of course, even this is left in the terrible open ended question....whether or not I actually know how to be Mom, that is. But that's my own question, not theirs.

I know that playing make believe is developmental, and although I may not have moved past other parts of my child hood (like not wanting to wash the dishes), I have actually left the phase of imaginative play. I marvel at my children's ability to engage in this ongoing drama for hours.
They write the script as they go.

Jonah: "Pretend I was a prince, but you didn't know because I lived in this little cottage in the forest."
Caroline: "Pretend I couldn't breathe and I could still live because oxygen could get in through my ears."
Jonah: "And one day you found my cottage."
Caroline: "And you thought I was dead because it looked like I couldn't breathe."
Jonah: "And you found a letter in a trunk in the attic from my father that said I was a prince."
Caroline: "And we got married and our kids could breathe through their ears."

This volley of commensurate dialogue will go on ad nauseum.
In their minds they may be existing in very different imaginary universes and somehow still satiate each other's desire for recognition of the next event in the story. Jonah doesn't mind that the girl who found him in the cottage can only breathe through her ears. He doesn't need to dwell on it so long as she is willing to be in the cottage with him. Caroline sees no problem with finding the letter that reveals he is a prince so long as he says "OK" in response to her frequent and completely bizarre contributions to the plot.

But yesterday they came to me in full felicity, mentally paralleled in their game. I opened the window from my bedroom to the back yard where they were digging up my wintered garden with spades.
"Mom, mom! Look what we're doing"
"You're digging up my garden?"
"No, we're digging up Pompeii"
"Oh, what have you found so far?"
"Well, we found Noelle, and Maren, and Jenny, and Tanner, and......"
And the list goes on for some time.
In fact, if Jonah and Caroline know your name they likely found your mummified body in the Pompeii of our back yard.
Caroline is jumping up and down, giggling, rosy cheeked, holding her spade aloft. "Yeah, we dug up Tanner, Mom."
"You guys are doing a good job." I assure them. "Come in when it gets too cold."
"OK Mom, but we have A LOT more to discover first."

Books are beautiful. Books make me think things like -
There is hope for humanity.
I won't get bored while I wait an hour for my turn at the DMV.
Life can be lived without television.
Hey, my older kid can read to my younger kid while I take a fifteen minute nap.
A book taught my children about Vesuvius and Pompeii and now they can excavate my back yard, unearthing the magic of knowledge wedded to imagination.

All this during the hours they might otherwise have been down the street eating school lunch, or swinging their legs under a vandalized desk.

Not that I don't make them regularly sit at a desk. But Cecily is our only vandal, and at 19 months she hasn't mastered the art of offense.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hello Again

The interlude was cousins.


Cousins sleeping on every horizontal space in our house.
Cousins dressing up, and dressing up, and dressing up.
Cousins keeping the baby happy for two straight weeks.
Cousins jumping off the cabin balcony into eight feet of snow.
Cousins writing stories that will surely be published in the "What to do on a Rainy Day" Almanac.
Cousins successfully avoiding lessons after the one disastrous day of home school torture.
Cousins reincarnating Darth Vader and Co. with an Indiana Jones lego set and a bit of voo doo.
Cousins piling up in sleds and swooshing away to certain death that turns out to be just dead fun.
Cousins talking into the wee hours about building tree houses and annihilating storm troopers.

Cousins making me wonder how on earth we will survive without six kids to keep each other happy when they have waved their good byes, blown their last kisses, turned the corner at the end of the road, and left us suddenly quiet and lonely on the cold front porch.

It must mean New York is on our horizon.