I was tidying up the house recently while my wife was putting Pea down for a nap. Like any little toddler with access to toys, Pea has a tendency to turn our house into a disaster zone worthy of government aid in the span of a few minutes. So, when she’s left to run amock for a few hours, the scene can be especially horrific.
This particular morning was especially gruesome, since Pea had had a field day with her stuffed animals. There were plush toys everywhere, and if I didn’t know any better, I might have thought her play area was doubling as a WWII movie set.
Brobee was lying face down in a frying pan on the burner of her kitchenette. Rizzo (the pink poodle) and Hannah (the potty training doll) had somehow landed on the roof of her playhouse and appeared to be clinging to the edge. And her beloved Flopsy, the long-eared hare? He was helplessly trapped beneath the undercarriage of Calinour, a giant pink Care Bear.
I told you, it was bad.
Anyway, as I gathered the toys and tossed them back into their basket, I found myself unconsciously talking to them – out loud – as if they weren’t inatamate objects, but rather the victims of a mass shooting.
“It’s alright, Scooby. You’re going to be OK.” Toss in the basket.
“Let me help you up, Dora. That looks like it hurts.” Toss in the basket.
“You’re not in the Hundred Acre Wood anymore, are you Pooh Bear?” Toss in the basket. Miss. Toss again.
Most of the toys received their own apology and words of comfort before I caught myself and put a stop to my own madness.
I considered my behaviour, felt a little sheepish, and then did a little LOL.
Being a Dad to a toddler means you often get caught-up in a world of make-believe and fantasy. Personally, I go there willingly and gleefully (see above for proof). I don’t think I ever really left the place where pretending isn’t taboo and I have an active, albeit unusual imagination that was just looking for a playmate.
Pea, it seems, will follow in my footsteps. When she plays by herself, she plays with her toys and often has multiple toys engaging in dialogue and story. The fact that I get to play along is just gravy.
The great thing is that her imagination is often one of the things that we can use to our advantage, to get her to concentrate and focus on a particular task. If we need her to sit still while we change her diaper, our pleading doesn’t work nearly as well as a brief conversation between her, Dr. Duck and Piggy-Piggy.
I will do everyting in my power to ensure this sense of imagination and creativity is nurtured and developed. After all, having a creative mind will help her now and in adulthood, as she seeks solutions to tough problems and scenarios.
And if I get to put on a puppet show or two in the process, who suffers?