Different kinds of playing...

When Sam and I were little, I was the boss. Not so much now, in fact not at all! Back then, however, Sam admired me so much that he wished he was a girl too! That is quite unimaginable at this point in our lives, but once upon a time when he was only four, it was actually true. :-) Naturally, since I was the boss, I dictated what we played. And to tell the truth, Sam was pretty happy with it, and things didn’t go too badly for him. Our favorite toys were Little People (the vintage type, not those ugly fat modern ones), stuffed animals such as Beanie Babies, my large family of dolls, Sam’s Thomas trains, my plastic dollhouse, and our imaginations.
    When we played with our stuffed animals our favorite scenario was to have a fair. We constructed elaborate rides out of plastic cups, yarn, balloons, and cardboard boxes. Then the stuffed animals dressed themselves in doll clothes and ribbons, and made speeches, and had picnics and prizes, and rode the cardboard elevator up and down the bunk-bed, or rode in plastic cups back and forth on a piece of yarn stretched across the ceiling. Our fairs got quite elaborate indeed, and I’m sure from Mom’s viewpoint we totaled the bedroom, but we had a grand time. Another thing we loved to do was to have a wedding. In fact, I imagine that each stuffed animal must have been married nearly ten times! I don’t remember much of the wedding details, but it seems that we often had little pieces of candy for cake, and that the bride and groom nearly always flew off in a hot air balloon.
    Besides using stuffed animals we ‘pretended’ things a lot on our own too. We lived in the jungle on grass and berries and our home was in our favorite climbing tree, we were poor peasants who had to follow behind the lawnmower and collect the cut grass in order to have enough bread to eat, we were nomads who had to sit in a sweltering hot tent (made with layers and layers of blankets hung on the bunk-bed), while a sandstorm passed. We were orphans who were running away from the cruel orphanage director, we ran a restaurant which served primarily mud patties, wild onion soup, and greens with dandelions shredded on top for shredded cheese. The list goes on, but I think I’ll stop there.
    Perhaps you now think that Sam was in great danger of becoming a girly boy, and perhaps he was. On the other hand, our pretend games were not particularly girly, and he had plenty of boy toys. The Thomas trains were definitely his, and the dolls were mine. I would play trains, and when he did play dolls with me, he was always the uncle. :-) Then too, Sam is the last boy I know who would turn out too girly, and he has a strong personality, which eventually decided it did not have to be bossed by me. Maybe Ben rescued him too, by being a boy instead of a girl. :-)
    With all this in mind, it’s quite hilarious to watch Ben and Jason playing. Oh, they play stuffed animals too, but it’s never occurred to them to have a wedding or fair. No indeed! Their play is of a far more violent nature, involving such things as wars, bombs, kidnapings, hideouts, and weapons. And when they do take a break from that, it’s only to move on to a car show, or motorcycle race. They have a stuffed elephant named Cookie, which they inherited from me, and thus he is of a more gentle nature, and tells elaborate stories about his life in the jungle. However, the elephant fad I started with Cookie has also produced an invisible elephant named Josephine who is of an unrivaled malicious nature, and who they must enter in constant warfare with. And as for pretending without stuffed animals, I don’t believe they ever play the wonderful make-believe games that stem from the desire to play house, or act out the books you read.
    In conclusion I wonder what Sam would have played if he had a boy playmate, and I wonder if Ben and Jay could be persuaded to play dolls and pretend if only they had a sister closer to their age. Not that long ago, I was sorting through some of my old toys, and Jason was amazed that the dolls had blinking eyes. Good grief! Had he never seen a doll before? So anyway, I decided to educate them on the subject of girl’s toys, and Jason was quite interested in the Bitty Baby’s wardrobe and toys. They even played with the plastic dollhouse for a few days. And they died laughing at the doll who could pee in it’s diaper. :-) But the dollhouse didn’t entertain them for long, and so I’m afraid they will never understand girl play. The only girly influence they have is me, and I’m not too terribly girly past my fondness for miniatures and slightly romantic books, and my earrings and painted toenails. ;-)

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