Do you have kids? What do they do for fun? Video games, sports, watch movies?
Do they ever play pretend?
I don’t have kids. I have dogs and cats, and sometimes, I wish I could understand them, because they seem to be playing pretend. Especially the kittens, as they go around, stalking things like little tigers.
I am around kids though, and from what I have seen, pretend has sadly gone by the wayside.
I played pretend all the time when I was little. We had a “fort” that my Dad built for us, and acres of woods to play in. Popular themes were Doctor Quinn: Medicine Woman, Narnia, the Titanic (the historical version, not the film version), Greek myths (we read a lot), Aladdin…
There were these kids that my Mom babysat a couple of times a week, and we had a running story in our pretend lives. Each time they came over, we’d continue on our boat journey, or epic quest, or whatever was happening in our world at that time. We each had nicknames, we made up nicknames for the “bad people”. Our pretend last name was a mix of our own last names.
And you know what? Over 15 years after the fact, we still talk about it. We still remember the names that we called each other, and we remember story lines that we lived out. We played with sticks and big leaves and a big wood fort. And we remember it.
I suggest playing pretend with kids that I babysit, and they have no idea what I am talking about. They don’t understand playing without rules. There are no video on youtube, showing “hacks” to do better at pretend. There is only your imagination.
I have two things that I believe a parent should ensure that their child learns. To play pretend, and to love reading. Other things are important too, but as children, they don’t need math and business shoved down their throats. Building an imagination will take them far in this world. And in unlimited others.