This morning, early in the day on the playground, a few of our older children were pretending to be cats. They were miaowing, wrapping themselves around my legs, pretending to wash themselves with their paws, etc. I love pretend games. I have a drama background. I learn by trying out different roles, So, when children themselves initiate fantasy play, especially fantasy play based on reality (e.g. acting in ways they know cats behave), I can play along.
“Oh, you are pretending to be cats. O.K. ” I then pretend to stroke the cats fur, and make comments such as, “This cat has such smooth fur.” or “This cat feels so warm.” I might wonder aloud about whether the cats are hungry, or what their names are.
One of our youngest children (just turned two) seemed very confused by what the children were doing. I told him several times, “The children are acting like cats. They are pretending.” He still seemed unsure of what was going on, so we moved away from the game and went to check out our gardening boxes, and picked the last of our ripe tomatoes. (Amazing, I know, in the Northwest in November!)
Before I left for the day, I once again spent time on the playground with our children. Our youngest child, who couldn’t quite grasp what was going on first thing in the morning, got down on all fours and began miaowing. He was pretending to be a cat. Somehow, during the day, his brain had figured out what was going on and he had learned to pretend to be an animal. He had remembered the game from the morning. He was so proud of himself.
And I was so thrilled to observe such development of the imagination in a single day in the life of a child!