April 28, 2009

Pretend is real

This weekend we switched a bunch of rooms around, including Ella's. During the move all the stuffed animals previously on top of her closet were on the floor, and at one point I decided to pile them all on top of Ella on her bed.

They stayed for a while, and later Ella developed out a story of going to the animal show. This went through different versions (going to the Elmo show, going to the duck pond to see Dora and the animals, going with Elmo to the duck pond to see ducks). Regardless, there was a big production about getting the animals to wherever we were going -- all the animals on her bed were assigned to different cars. At one point I had the green car with six animals, Ella had yellow with eight. Our cars changed colors and occupants several times during the trip. We never actually arrived.

Later, Barb took her out to the grocery so I could put my mad IKEA skills to work on the last piece of furniture. But when they got home Barb gave me a look, and Ella had tears running down her face.

I quizzed her with my eyebrows. "She thought we were going to the Elmo show after the grocery," Barb said, picking up Ella from the carseat.

This blew me away. She made up a show, then got upset because she wasn't going. Was this why we never made it to the show when we were playing, because she thought we'd be going for real?

And then it struck me how concrete the pretend world can be for kids her age. Just talking about something can make it so. That's a wonderful and scary idea.

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