We had a few good days of nice weather last week, with the temperatures being in the upper 70s in the late afternoons. It actually felt like a cool summer, instead of a warm winter! Needless to say, I got Sam and Jamie out into the playgrounds to expend some pent-up energy, and I was a little surprised at how much the dynamics of our “play” have changed in the last couple of months. It’s a little strange for me to say that I’m sure – seeing as how I am with them every single day. I suppose I’ve gradually seen the changes develop on a daily and weekly basis; I guess it just really sunk in as to how big they are both getting (You can also attribute the lapse in attention span to age and what I call mommy mush brain!). Both girls have just grown and developed tremendously over the last couple of months that I am really still in shock as to how time has literally flown by.
Jamie for instance will be a year old in three weeks’ time! She is standing and cruising and reading (more on this in a later post!) and is well on her way to becoming a full-fledged toddler. But didn’t I just give birth to her yesterday? (I still feel the pregnancy belly after all…). In the past when we’d go to playgrounds, I would simply wear her in her sling and we’d just follow her sister around. Sometimes even, she’d be in the stroller and protest about getting left behind as I chased after her Ate. This last week however she seemed to be telling me she’s had enough of the passive observer role, and wanted out and up on the equipment. She was grunting, babbling and pointing to everything she wanted to try – swings, slides, steps and mulch included. She was also very observant of the animals, whether they were dogs (and I quote: “Dag! Dag! Da-hg! wowowowowowow….”) or squirrels and birds, she was alert to their presence and made sure we knew they were there.
And then there is Sam. Oh! Such a vivid imagination. The stories and tales have gotten more elaborate and specific, but all in all still fun. I’m amazed at how she can mix up and remember so many things from the various sources and stimuli she’s exposed to. She’s integrated things that she’s seen on TV with adventures from trips we’ve taken, or from her Kindermusik classes and other extra-curricular activities. There are even bits and pieces which I can only imagine come directly from the adventures she and her friends make up. Somehow they all come together and make sense in that tiny super active brain of hers, and it’s fun to listen to and be a part of. You never know what you’re going to get.
Lately she has repeatedly enjoyed being a pirate on a pirate ship. Every Sunday morning while I am getting my much-needed “sleep in” time, she and her dad turn the playroom into an imaginary pirate ship that sails to different places all over the world. Normally when we’re on a playground, she is just happy to play with the other kids and go up and down slides and swings, or will take it a step further and pretend we’re ordering at a restaurant. This time though, she walked (err, ran) onto the equipment and claimed the bridge as her pirate ship. Of course, Jamie and I had to get on it too so that we wouldn’t be left behind. Mind you, we weren’t just ordinary pirates – we were in SQUIRREL costumes (?!). So we’d pretend to head over to Elie’s house, the zoo, to Manila, and get off and change costumes (I think I became a zebra, and she was an iguana. I forget Jamie’s costume…) and pick up groceries, or bread, or perform some sort of activity. That afternoon we had chanced upon Sesame Street for Big Bird’s birthday party. Goodness! My head was spinning trying to keep up with the chatter and where I thought she’d gotten all those different ideas. None were from the same source.
Afterwards, Sam decided to park the pirate ship and ride the swing to the moon (Now this game, I know she plays a lot with Elie, and they are always on their way to the moon). I decided to encourage this thought process further and asked her a series of questions. It led to this scenario — that we’d go to the moon, and ride the clouds that are shaped like a horse and a duck and say hi to the airplanes and the helicopters. Or we would be airplanes ourselves and fly past them all. She even stuck out her arms (At the Little Gym when they balance, they’re taught to stick their arms straight out and it’s called “airplane arms”) and tiptoed around flying. Whee!
At some point, the trip to the moon got a little tiring and when I sat down on the bench in the playground, Sam got the idea that I was at the bus stop, waiting for the red bus to take us to the airport. So she sat beside Jamie and myself and waited for our buses (we each had to pick a color) to come and get us. I think we were even headed to Boracay and the Circus at different points in time. She even went as far as turning the tunnel on the playground structure into the bus, and she would peep thru the holes in the tunnel as if they were the windows, asking for tickets and payments to get on the bus. I have to tell you, of all the times that we had been on that playground, I’d never thought to do that. When she got off the bus, she said she was in a dress and held up her hand in a fist to show me that she had a “basket of goodies” and that she was going to skip home, or maybe, if it doesn’t get dark too soon (I say this phrase to her a lot), then we’d go to Target and shop for some things.
It takes a lot of energy to keep up with it I tell you. I realized how much my imagination is limited to the concrete things that I see are in front of me, if I do have any imagination at all! It’s funny how Sam can mix up her actual toys too and have them talk to each other, too. Elmo for instance, will visit her Princess Disney castle because he needs to sleep on the royal bed. Strawberry Shortcake and her friends will meet Lalaloopsy’s figurines for some forward rolling (because she can bend them forward to stand on their heads) and picnic fun. And sometimes she just carries the two or three pieces of figurines and has them bouncing up and down the table with absolutely nothing else.
I used to think that a lot of props were necessary for such imaginative play and story-telling; but now I realize that all kids Sam’s age really need is their active brain. She is happy to be anywhere and play anywhere; because in her own little world, she is exactly where she wants to be.