My 4-year-old daughter loves to play pretend with me. For several months, we've played Cinderella. She is not Cinderella. I'm not either. We're the step-sisters.
Today she changed the game. Bye-bye, glass slipper; hello, Redcoats. This afternoon we stepped right into our nation's past as she became Sarah from the cartoon series about the American Revolution, Liberty's Kids. I morphed into Sarah's mother.
The entire play was acted out while I was washing dishes and then feeding the baby. And this is the dialogue:
Daughter: I'm Sarah, and you be my mother. And my father just died in the war. And we're so sad, and my hero is the one with my brother who is a soldier, but he got captured by the British and has a gag in his mouth.
Daughter (in an urgent, breathless voice): Mother, what shall we do? The British are coming up the driveway!
Me (matching her urgent, breathless voice): I don't know. I guess I'll need to keep washing the dishes so they don't see dirty dishes.
Daughter (urgent, breathless voice continues for the duration): How shall I help you?
Me (still the urgent, breathless voice, but also choking back laughter at aforementioned voice): Perhaps you could unload the silverware from the dishwasher, my daughter.
Daughter: Yes, that would be delightful.
Me: Yes, indeed.
Daughter works alongside Me, putting dishes away.
Then, in the background, a baby cries. For real.
Me: Oh, no, your baby brother is crying! Shall we go to him, daughter?
Daughter: Yes, we shall. You must nurse him before the British get here.
Daughter (handing me a nursing pillow): Here, my mother, you will need this.
Me: Thank you so very much.
Daughter: The British are almost here. What shall I do?
Me: Well, if they will be coming in, don't you think you should go pick up your room?
Daughter (giving me a strange look, a look which says that she's figured out my game but still in her breathy, urgent Revolutionary War era voice which indicates playing pretend): I do not think I should. What about the children?
Me: (NOT in breathy voice, but in a genuinely confused one) Huh?
Daughter: The British are coming. What about the children?
Me: If you pick up the toys in your room, then they will not know we have children.
Daughter: Um. No. That is not a good idea, my mother.
At this point, she completely figured out my game, and Daddy came home or the brothers interrupted or something.
If you have a child that likes to play such things, it is so easy to tune out the constant chatter when you are busy with other thoughts. But play along a time or two, just for the fun of it. Plus you might get a few chores done before your little smarty figures out your ulterior motives. And if playing make-believe is really just not your thing, at least listen to your child play make-believe with siblings or friends. The drama cannot be matched on the big screen.