Monday, February 16, 2009

The Rules of Make-Believe

...are too hard for me to understand or follow. The minds of three and four year olds are at the same time beginning to understand the world around them and project their own ideas and fantasies onto that world. It's funny to watch them try to force their will onto reality when we're playing games. When playing Candy Land, Clara will pick through the cards until she finds one that moves her the furthest. When playing war with Nana, Clara waits until Nana puts her card down before flipping through her own deck to find a superior card. We're working on that.

It's amazing kids can separate make-believe from reality when we are constantly injecting make-believe into their realities. Santa Claus brings their presents. The Tooth Fairy rewards them for losing their teeth. And pirates are friendly, like this guy:

That's Redbeard, a pirate that the girls met while visiting their friends Nathan and Simon in Florida last week. Kate looks like she's growling at him or saying, "Aaaaarrrrr!" While on the beach with them, or in St. Pete with Nana and Papa, the girls were constantly slipping into make-believe, pretending to be, at various times, dinosaurs, princesses, dolphins, and eels, among other things. It's quite funny to watch this from a distance, especially when the girls decided to be the ugly stepsisters for some reason. But when they involve me in their make-believe, I am hopelessly inept at keeping up with their reasoning. They have no problem keeping up with each other, but I keep getting things wrong.

Kate's birthday was February 3rd, and one of her favorite presents was a toy coffee maker from Grandma. She loved pretending to make coffee and brought me her creations. I pretended that the empty cup she gave me was coffee and proceeded to drink it. Her response? "Daddy, that cup is empty." OK. "But I thought you brought me coffee?" "I drank it." "You drank it?" "Yeah," she said, as if it was totally obvious. Sometimes they announce that I am the king, but when I try to command them to do something, I see it's really just a ceremonial position. As I watch them make their way through their days, I'm starting to think "Dad" might be slipping slowing into a ceremonial position as well.

(When I collect the pictures from our Florida trip, I'll post them here. Thanks to Nikki Lemkemeier for the pirate picture above.)


Anonymous said...

I would have to say that Clara's creative card playing is more often refered to as "cheating" not "fantasy" :) This is a little girl that definitely knows how to work the system.

Meg (aka Mommy)

Nikki said...

Imagination vs. Control: Nathan loves to draw daily and usually creates some sort of masterpiece before 7:00 am. I usually make a few stabs at what it might be: "a dinosaur stepping on a plant?" Though it might look pretty close to a dinosaur stepping on a plant, the answer inevitably is: "NO! It's a Stinkbug stinking." Hmmm. I think that 4 year old Nathan likes to hold on to those parts of his life that he can control. Kate probably loves to tell you that the cup is empty because that is something that Daddy does not have much of a say in. Fun to read your thoughts!

Shannon said...

I found you through Five Star Friday! I love your blog and I love that you are a local blogger!!
Imagination can be a gateway for worlds left unexplored. Let the imagination run wild you have a great writer one day, or a huge movie star, or a really great kid!

Joel Bittle said...

Welcome, Shannon, and thanks for your kind words. I do love watching their imaginations at work. There really is no limit to what they can think up.

Nikki, I think you hit the nail on the head with Kate trying to control little parts of her world. It's a good thing her world is pretty small right now.

Schmutzie said...

This website is being featured on Five Star Friday!

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous, "aka" Meg,

I'm with you. Not that I see what Clara is doing or have experienced it with her. I have experienced a very clever Alex at the age of 4. Alex definitely knew what she was doing. Never underestimate the intelligence of a Bittle child ;).

Auntie Tracy

Anonymous said...

Shannon I couldn't agree with you more when you say, allow a child's immagination to run wild and you have a future writer. My youngest son had an immagination that never stopped. He told stories constantly. He could tell a story (lie) to you about something you had seen him do and by the time he was finished, you were questioning what you saw. It took long sessions of comparing the story to the reality to keep him in our plane of existence. But, I never stopped praising the creativity of his stories.

He is grown now and has become a gifted writer. I couldn't be prouder of him. He is the author of this blog.

So, what do you think? Should we paint these girls with their Daddy's paint brush?