I’ve been marvelling, of late, at Rosemary’s burgeoning imagination. She’s been playing imaginary games for quite a while now – doctor’s, vets, babies and so on – but over the last few weeks it really seems to be blossoming and I can sit here on the sofa of a morning and witness intricate stories of family life, jungle adventure and magical lands.
I did a couple of playgroup duties, recently, which gave me the opportunity to watch (and join in with) some home corner play. There is a plethora of resources there and it’s fascinating watching them play out scenarios they’ve seen at home – putting babies to bed and in high chairs, shopping with the tills and money, doing the ironing (Rosemary doesn’t really do this one – I wonder why?). But what I really love is seeing her (and her friends) using their imagination to create something. For example, during one duty, the doormat at the entrance to playgroup was a doctor’s surgery and a swimming pool at different times. There was a brief conflict when Rosemary wanted it to be a pool and her friend wanted it to be the doctor’s surgery, but they resolved this by having the doctor do his consultations in the pool!
I especially enjoy, though, watching Rosemary create intricate imaginary scenarios with her toys and imaginary friends, on her own. Because that’s something I used to do. I had a protector called Dreaming Dragon. He protected me from the witch who would come out when you flushed the chain at night. In order to avoid the witch, it was necessary to run back to bed shouting ‘Dreaming Dragon! Dreaming Dragon!’ all the way. I let my friends join in sometimes, of course, especially Sadie. Sadie and I made regular trips to fairyland, via her mum’s old Singer sewing machine. We were, of course, fairy princesses there – Victoria and Elizabeth – but had to live in the human world for most of the time (for some reason that I cannot remember).
Rosemary hasn’t yet got quite as adventurous as my childhood fairy tales, but she’s on the way. She likes to go to the jungle quite often, and up mountains and into space. She loves magic. (Doesn’t every child? In fact, I still do.)
And she comes up with imaginative reasoning and ideas, which are often hilarious or sometime disturbing. On one walk to school, we were talking about burglars (I don’t remember why) and she said ‘Burglars are dead, aren’t they?’ ‘Why do you think they’re dead?’ ‘Well, they have skeletons and skeletons are dead, so burglars must be dead.’ Ah logic. Of a kind. The logic did fall apart when I pointed out that we also had skeletons and weren’t dead. But then she saw a pretty red leaf on the floor so we stopped worrying about skeletons and burglars.
When walking home recently, we heard a train horn and started talking about trains (we had been on a couple of train journeys recently). Rosemary was wondering what colour the train was. ‘It might be red.’ ‘Yes, maybe.’ ‘Or perhaps it’s blue.’ ‘Or green?’ ‘I know! I think it’s silver.’ ‘Ooh, silver. That sounds nice.’ ‘Yes. And do you know? Silver trains are magic.’ ‘Are they? Why are they magic?’ ‘Well. You see. They turn you into wizards.’ ‘Wizards? That sounds fun.’ ‘Yes. And, actually. They turn you into giants, too.’ ‘Giants? Goodness! I’d like to go on a silver train.’ ‘Yes. Me too. Actually, mum. You don’t need to be a giant, because you’re big already. But I can be a giant. And you can still be a wizard.’
Have your children started exploring their imagination yet? Or have they stopped now they’re older? Can you remember your own imaginary worlds and stories from when you were a child? Do you still love magic or has life got in the way?