Thursday, March 4, 2010

pretend play

One of the things that Andrew's therapists are recommending that we work on is pretend play. Pretend play is sooo good for kids. Great for language development, great for processing what they are thinking about, great tool to have when learning to play with other kids. I was definitely on board. Except there was one problem. I hate pretend play.

I can build and create with the best of them. I can crawl through couch cushion obstacle courses and host wrestling matches on my bed. But think up story lines and act them out? I'd rather go to successive and increasingly difficult dental appointments.

But, I decided to try it out. The first day was bad. We got out some action figures and I pretended on behalf of the Riddler and gave Andrew Batman. When I had the Riddler talk to Batman, Andrew told me frankly, "Mom, Batman can't talk." oh boy.

But little by little we worked at it. We got better scenarios going and incorporated the things we were already good at. And yesterday we found ourselves on lego telephones having a three way conference call with Little Einsteins about the new rocket that Andrew just made for them out of blocks. Andrew first declared his love for June ("Hi June! I love you!") and then outlined the features of the new rocket ("it goes super fast and really high!") and then explained what to do with their current rocket ("drop it off at Kirsten's house"). He ended the phone call with a "gotta go! goodbye!" and that was that. Mission Completion.

And the pretend play payed off. When my mom called later that afternoon, Andrew asked to speak to her. And instead of getting nervous and only spouting silly jargon, he had a real live give-and-take conversation with her. A phone first for them.

Turns out, practice makes perfect. Me practicing pretend play made me a better pretender. Andrew pretending to talk on the phone made him a better communicator. Why is it I never saw that coming?


Susan said...

You should have Andrew and Joseph play together more. Joseph and his imaginary friends stay so busy it's annoying. I bet that you'll see Andrew and Isaac doing pretend play together before long. My two older ones spend hours a day doing this (they just returned from a long trip to the beach)and it probably started about when Margaret turned two. So hang in there, Riddler :)

Kirsten said...

Yay Andrew!

I love that photo of Andrew's pants falling down. I had forgotten it.

Melissa said...

I'm with you. Pretend play is not my forte, either. It wears me out! but I'm trying, too. It really is so important for development.

Eric said...

I have always wanted a rocket. So Kirsten can I take it out for a spin when I get home? (PLEASE :)

Ms. Walker said...

Hi don't like pretend play either..even as a kid, I remember my friends wanting to play house and I felt like -- this is silly. I wanted to tell them "It's not real, you know."
Good for you for trying it out!

erin said...

Cute apple page. I've re-started my wedding scrapbook (6 years after the fact!) and I think I could learn a thing or two about cute tag usage from you. Here's to being a copy cat!

Danielle said...

Brice has a thing for June, too. Loves her headband.

Mama V said...

June really is a babe. She was the first character Lucas could identify when he first started watching it!

Doesn't apple-picking season just feel like a million years ago?! (It does to me!)

Anonymous said...

I'm not a good pretender either. I stink at it.

Question - on scrapbooking. I used to scrapbook the boys in one scrapbook (based on month and events) and I'm very far behind (18+ months) so now I'm just starting Abby's. But I feel like now that the boys are in preschool I should split their scrapbooks out and do three. BUT when you do an "apple day" or "easter" or "christmas" where do you do it? Do you have a "family" scrapbook? Does this make it complicated to have a million different scrapbooks. Maybe we need an e-mail to discuss this. I can't scrapbook because I don't know how to organize it. My e-mail is

Thanks, alot!

Kathleen said...

I never liked pretend play. Glad that part of my life is over....oh wait. Do you think I'll have to do it again with grandkids? YIKES!!!

firefly said...

I LOVE(D) pretend play, and so I feel kind of let down that it is so unloved. I still pretend all of the time and I'm 33 years old.

Miss Vicki said...

First, have you made a dental appointment? I think you are overdue. Second, why did you not enter Isaac in the "Beautiful Babies" contest at Regis...? Third, I hate pretend play-I am always a flat thinker. But I loved having a "normal" conversation w/ Andrew!!

firefly said...

"Pretend play is sooo good for kids. Great for language development, great for processing what they are thinking about, great tool to have when learning to play with other kids."

I woke up needing to put in another plug about pretend play. And since this is your blog and not mine, I think I am going to turn this comment into a mini-post, because I can't help but feel like pretend play is this fantastically wonderful part of human experience that clearly isn't getting the kind of frame it needs for people to discover what it has to offer--I don't mean cognitively understand it--I mean discover it. It isn't just good for kids. It's good for adults--though how it looks changes with time. I was serious about using it every day, and I don't have any children. I don't do it to play along with kids, I do it because I consider it one of the most spiritually rich and profound means of understanding who and what I can be as a human being. There are a lot of books written about this--about how to playfully enter your own identity through multiple doors (which is precisely what pretend play is about). There is a lot written about how integral this is to creative maturity. In college, I had to read serious critical essays and even entire books on this (it wasn't called pretend play, of course, but that is essentially what it was), and it helped support my innate tendency to rely on this tool.

Last year, I worked with a Jungian analyst who told me that I had one of the most self-aware psyches he'd ever encountered, and if I had to narrow in on one explicit reason that I think that is true, I could easily point to this one -- to the ability to enter pretend play -- to the ability to exit the prescribed conventions by which reality (so expansive, so elusive, beyond our imaginings) is so narrowly defined, and to playfully and deeply explore possible alternatives as though they, also, were real. And you discover they really are real, often in ways you didn't at first suspect. In this way, I discover myself as something more vivid, less prosaic, than I otherwise would.

I think this is the reason why Gestalt's work functions the way it does, or why Shakespeare is considered by many modern theorists as not just a master of insight into human experience, but literally a forger of the foundational ideas which we now understand ourselves as humans. His creative imagination literally shifted the essential fabric of our perceptive lens.

Having a normal phone conversation is a very good, practical goal. And it is also just the tip of the iceberg. He is learning to yield his mind to the world of "What if...?" And it's like he is going to be creating a whole bunch more elbow room in how he perceives the world. Totally fantastic thing to do. :)

MandiCrocker said...

WOW!!! That is so funny (because it takes me back & makes me think especially of the video for your brother) and yet very, very cool that it's working for your little guy! Who'd have thought? Pretend play. Huh. You're such a good mom. :)

I'm sad I don't know who this June person is... she makes me feel like I should get some work done! ;)

Robyn said...

"she makes me feel like I should get some work done" when I first read this I thought, "I wonder why June makes Mandi feel lazy." Then I realized that "getting work done" has a different meaning in LA than it does in NYC. ;)

Melissa said...

I love your thoughts on pretend play. I've thought a lot about how I wish I were better at it or enjoyed it more. And i wonder what makes so many people (and I think especially girls/ women) enjoy it as kids and then not enjoy it.

In this area, I'm hoping my kids influence me strongly toward pretending more and that I can learn from them.

Melissa said...

One of the things I've thought about recently is that I want to intently listen to Atticus more (one of the ideas discussed in the book I'm reading- that one by Matt Damon's mom- I can never remember the title or her name). I'm trying, when he says things like, "Pretend I'm a fairy" or "pretend you can fly" to really put myself in that space. And it really does make it exciting.