My kid has a brilliant imagination. She has three imaginary friends (Baby sister, sister and Maria – yeah), and an imaginary dog named Sparky. She hosts tea parties, puts on concerts and dance shows. She tells me she’s ‘tend this or ‘tend that (which is one of my favourite kid words she has – pretend becomes ‘tend).
Watching the Olympics she did pretend swimming and pretend diving. She takes care of us when we have imaginary injuries. She fixes imaginary problems with her tool kit.
One of my favourite things lately has been just watching her and listening to her. I read that imaginary friends help kids process things they’re learning, so it feels pretty good when she tells her doll to say please and thank you. It also feels pretty bad when she tells me that when she was a mommy she had to go to work and her baby cried, or when she set up her toy laptop and told her doll that she had to get some work done.
The fact is that her pretend play is a fantastic way for us to learn more about her, to listen to what she’s really hearing from us.
This morning she decided to ask for a play kitchen. She caught me looking at a toy website, adding things I had thought of as potential future presents, and she saw the kitchen and immediately wanted it. In fact my refusal to take her to the store at 7 am to get it caused a tantrum. (Which is a whole other things we’re going to have to talk about).
She loves playing with play kitchens when we go out. They have one at the Early Years Centre and it was all she did when we went to the drop in a couple of weeks ago. It didn’t surprise me at all that she would be drawn to this toy and I’ve thought about getting her one in the past.
The thing is, she helps me in the kitchen, she pretends to bake things – in fact she once yelled at me for sitting in one of our living room chairs because I hadn’t realized it was her oven and she was worried my bum would get too hot.
Really I know that getting her a play kitchen isn’t going to destroy any part of her imagination, she’ll just have more to add to it, but it’s in the back of my mind anyway.