Imaginative play has been a bit of a depressing concept in our home. For so long, I had therapists express concern that Danny wasn't engaging in imaginative play, which of course added to my already interminably long list of worries. At times, I got defensive and made excuses for him. After all, he is very, very active and is more interested in running and jumping than in playing house. Growing up, I tended to prefer to play field hockey and softball with my twin brother and his friends than dolls with my sister. Maybe it is just a personality thing or a preference...
Still, I worried. And when he finally started employing his imagination more, I celebrated. He began small by feeding a baby doll or having his stuffed dog accompany us on trips. He insisted that I buckle puppy in, and puppy got to take part in all our activities. Now, we use our imagination in therapy and pretend he is crossing an alligator-infested swamp when he uses our makeshift balance beam. That sort of thing.
Last night, though, he really oudid himself. When he came home from school, he decided to clean up his room ala Wall-E (unbelievably, this game has stuck!) where he piles everything he owns, and a few things he doesn't, into his closet. Then, he and Charlotte commenced to jumping off the beds onto the floor. Danny proclaimed that they were at the beach and were jumping into the water. They dove and "swum" like madmen. They even started splashing me with imaginary water--right in the face. I would splash back and Danny would wipe the water from his eyes. When he tired of swimming, he laid out his blanket, which was now his beach towel, and spread out snacks of apples, grapes and watermelon, all imaginary. After snacking, (and being very careful not to get the snacks wet), they went back to swimming.
It was delightful watching Danny use his imagination so actively. I had to tear myself away to finish up dinner, but as I worked in the kitchen, I heard Danny say, "Charlotte, come on. Let's build a sandcastle!"
I know this is an average day in the life of a mom with "typical" kids. I used to envy those mothers--a lot, and sometimes even resent them and their "easy" kids. Their kids who never freaked out because the organ music was too loud at church, the ones who didn't get overstimulated at the drop of a hat. The ones who picked up language easily. But now, I have come to appreciate my experience more and what Danny is teaching me. For one, I am so much more grateful and aware (and in awe of) kids and what and how they learn. I definitely would have taken all the kid milestones for granted (that's just the kind of person I am, I think) had Danny not shown me how miraculous our brains are, how complicated and amazing.
So, here's to pretend play!