Sunday, April 18, 2010

Let's Pretend.......Words Heard from the Playdate

Having twins and working outside the home, for me, means that I very rarely schedule playdates for my kids.  Why would I?  They are the same age.  They have similar interests.  They play well together.  Playdates are complicated, what with the driving them here or there, or coordinating drop off and pick up times.  And what's more, I only really get to spend extended periods of time with my kids on the weekends, do I really want them gone for 2,3,4 hours?

The answer is it's not up to me.  I'm beginning to learn that it is better for my kids' development and their imaginations to play with other kids their age--and the same gender.

Yesterday, I scheduled playdates for both kids.  Each one had a friend over.  These were looooong playdates.  The first kid arrived at 7:45 am and the last kid left at 5 pm.  I made 17 grilled cheese sandwiches and cut 100 strawberries.  Okay, well not really, but it seemed like it.  Their imaginary play just evolved from each corner of the house.

I decided to spy, stealthily from place to place observing, like a social scientist scrutinizing subjects in contrived habitats. You wouldn't believe what I heard.

"Let's pretend we were best friends, and we're fairies."

"No, we're jazz cats, and we have to come to this island every once in a while, and people take care of us."

"Wait, we're tiger cubs and you have to tame us."

"Let's pretend we're putting on a show and I'm the only one who can do this special move."

 "Let's pretend we have to have a battle and we have to jump off this couch into those cushions to see who wins."

"And we're magic and we have to use wands to make spells."

The boys had created an elaborate game that resembled skeeball and involved what boys like best--throwing things.  They threw Mighty Beanz up the skateboard ramp and into the playhouse, assigning different points for each window or door the toy went through.  DG said the game should really be called, "Where's My Mighty Bean" because that was all they said over and over as they looked for the chucked toys.

The girls set up a spa in my bathroom.  There, all my nail polish bottles were strewn around the bathroom floor and they were painting each other's fingertips nails.  It was hard to get a word in edgewise as they cheeped like baby chicks and squealed their approval of each other's looks.  I intervened and served as manicurist for a couple of minutes.

The boys made a battlefield of the couch cushions.  The girls were a dozen different characters in a multitude of made up stories from fairies to princesses to dancing divas.

I discovered in my scientific observation that boys are different than girls.  Ha.  Who knew.  And all this time I was treating my twins as just kids.  I was encouraged by their gender-specific play.  Both kids were able to spend time imagining a world where they could just be who they wanted to be.  There was no looming school work, no scheduled activity, no birthday party, no parents' errands that needed to drag them away from the sheer joy of being a seven-year-old boy or girl.  Maybe more of these playdates are a good idea.


Judith Whitaker said...

Sweet. They teach us so much. My favorite part is the quotes from the kids. Little treasures we often don't hear and forget soon after they've said them. "Let's pretend we're best friends and we're fairies."

Amy said...

I feel the same way. If it were up to me, Bugs and I would just hang out with each other but I know that she needs to have interaction with kids her own age and so when we move I'll be looking for playdates for her. Kids really do teach us to stretch our comfort zone!