Thursday, January 26, 2012

Is there an instruction manual for imaginative play? Cuz I feel like we could use an instruction manual.

Today we drove back to the park in the neighboring town, the same one we went to on Tuesday.  The boys were so enamored of the space, and didn't get enough time there on Tuesday.  We had time today, nothing going on after school, so I picked them up and we headed straight there.  I put boots in the car and had them change when we got there, to avoid getting school shoes super muddy.

Our time started off great.  The boys were excited to return to the Star Wars park.  I love to see that excitement in them, and I love that I can create it simply by driving 10 minutes to a different park.  Our trouble began when the boys started to plot their game.  We often have this trouble when they are playing pretend games like this.  Theo has one idea.  Simon has another.  One boy refuses to yield to another, and they usually end up in fisticuffs.  It can be really frustrating to observe this pattern, and I'm usually at a loss when it comes to helping them work through their disagreements.  Today's argument escalated very quickly, maybe because the boys were tired from school?  I'm not sure, but the tears and fists came flying faster than normal.  The boys spent 30 minutes fighting, yelling, wailing, and crying over this Star Wars scenario disagreement.  THIRTY MINUTES.  Fifteen minutes times two.  I was disheartened to say the least. 

Finally, finally, it turned around.  I'm not sure how exactly it happened.  But eventually I was able to convince Simon to try again, to get a little looser with his playing style, and basically to not just give up because if we left now we would all return home in a grumpy mood.  He did try again, and he did a great job. We spent the next 30 minutes happily playing and wandering around the big park. 

I'm glad we were able to leave on a high note.  I wonder if this imaginative play thing will get easier for them as they get older.  They'll probably always have different ideas of what to do in a particular game, but maybe they'll get more flexible, more practiced at compromising and incorporating everyone's ideas into a big ol' ball of fun playtime.  I sure hope so.

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