The things that will never make it in the baby books and other musings from a stay at home mom

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Playing house

Two Augusts ago, when Julia was just about Evan's age, we hit a rainy couple of weeks which left us stuck around the house with not much to do. I've had big time deja vu thinking about those weeks recently. This morning, I suddenly remembered that I had solved the problem then with a new toy -- the Fisher Price Sweet Sounds House -- which I surprised Julia with on a particularly hellacious morning. It was love at first sight, and for the next several months, that dollhouse was virtually the only toy Julia played with. For hours at a stretch, she would move the figures through the house and narrate elaborate storylines that sounded a little too familiar (the Daddy was always working on the computer, the Mommy was always going to the bathroom and no one was doing much laundry). I loved listening to our lives played out at the hands of my toddler, and even more than that, I loved the way it kept her occupied for so long.

The "Mama Dada Baby," as Julia always called it, has been gathering dust on a shelf for months now, until it occurred to me this morning that maybe Evan was ready for it and perhaps I could keep both kids occupied together if we took it out today. The dollhouse had saved me from August once, I reasoned, so why not try again?

Julia loved the idea, so out came the house. "Here, Evan... you can be the Daddy," she told him. Evan lit up. "Ba?" he asked, using his sweetly mispronounced version of Paul's name. "Dada! Dada!" And off Evan ran to the door, clutching the Little People Daddy and looking for his father. "No, Evan," Julia explained. "It's pretend. You're holding the Daddy to this house. And here's the Mommy and the baby." Evan looked sad. "Ba?" he asked again. "No, no Ba," Julia replied. "Just pretend. The Daddy can come home from work and kiss the Mommy now." Evan brightened considerably, ran over and planted a big smack on my face. "No, Evan, the Daddy in your hand," Julia explained again. "He should come home and kiss the Mommy in my hand." Evan looked at his hand, clearly confused. "Ba?" he asked, running to the door to look for Paul again.

Five minutes of inane conversation later, it was abundantly clear that Evan was just not cognitively ready for the land of make believe just yet. Finally tired of running back and forth to the door to look for Paul, he started taking the plastic pieces of furniture that came with the toy and tossing them around the room. In seconds, Julia squealed with glee and joined him in his game. Plastic highchairs and tables were scattered willy nilly. Both kids were giggling happily as toys flew through the air. My visions of a quiet morning on the floor of the playroom were dashed as said playroom floor rapidly became a land mine of Little People accessories.

I started to step in to break up the mayhem and then I thought the better of it. No one was playing the way I'd anticipated, but both children were happily playing with the dollhouse -- and more importantly, with each other. Mission accomplished... sort of.


At 4:02 PM, Blogger Steph said...

Too funny. I love the narrative of Julia trying to explain make believe to her little brother! I also love his mispronunciation of Paul's name.

Even if the dollhouse didn't get played with for it's intended use, at least it kept them busy and happy!

We are at a fun point where J has started getting more interested in dolls, and more importantly, doll strollers.... had to make a trip to Toys R Us to get a second baby doll stroller to ward off the many fights we were having over the one. Now the girls can stroll the neighborhood (or family room) together :) ... or in J's case, she can put her dolls in and out of the stroller as M strolls around!


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