Friday, April 20, 2012

Paperdolls and babies

Remember paper dolls?  I used to play with them all the time.  Now kids have so many toys to choose from but that didn't stop me from introducing Avery to the concept of paper dolls yesterday.  In her world, paper dolls are replaced by stickers.  She is only two so she hasn't grasped the idea of putting them in any particular place yet, so we improvised.  Our stickers talked.  They told stories.  They hugged and found their way onto our cheeks and arms and bellies and even the dog at one point which made us both giggle because ~ well we hadn't put it there. Buerle just happened to walk too close to my arm and one jumped onto his tail. We had a good laugh watching the dog wag his tail with Rapunzel stuck to it.

Sometimes I worry that children are growing up without the ability to play make believe.  Toys and games have the stories created for them.  Toddlers are given toys but they still end up playing with the boxes or bowls.  Why play with a drum when you can bang on a pan or bowl with a wooden spoon? As they grow older video games take over the entertainment factor.  Who wants to read books when the video can be watched?  All of the new toys have their place, don't get me wrong.  I love watching Avery react to the sharks in Nemo or Puss-n-Boots in Shrek, but it's important for us to balance make believe with what is already provided for her.

I supposed my grandparents felt the same way.  I was never at a loss for making up stories.  Like the time I dropped the can of toothpaste powder in the sink and water got into it.  I told my mom that my imaginary friend put it in there.  With an airplane.  I can still remember (vaguely) demonstrating how it happened.

Avery is at the age when you want to foster that creativity. While playing with her stuffed animals, babies, and Elmos, I witness her ever growing ability to show concern, care, and empathy.  She has been teaching her Elmos for several months now.  Yesterday her buggy fell over and she was so concerned that the Grinch had been hurt.  It broke my heart, but it is an emotion she will have many times over the years. I hope as she gets older she will continue to play and not fall victim to so much structure that she doesn't have time to make believe. It was fun playing "paper dolls" with the stickers yesterday.  While we can't dress them up with different clothes, we can stick them in different places, and that is fun too.  Watching her sing songs and talk to the stickers and her "babies" brought me so much pleasure, and hopefully she will remember someday how Gaga played with her.

"Sorry Grinch, Love you!"

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