“Lets’ play Rocket, Mommy!” Kojo said with his eyes wide open. “You be Lucia and I’ll be Noe.”
I had been politely turning down his invitations for play all morning. “Once I finish unpacking,” I said.
“After what?” He asked wanting to understand exactly when our role play session would begin.
“After I empty this entire suitcase,” I responded assuringly.
While I folded clothes and sorted socks, he patiently crafted a rocket out of a pen. I watched several launches and participated as much as possible between trips to the closet and laundry room.
“Look, all empty,” I said as I lifted the limp bag off the floor.
He decided that we would be flight attendants instead of astronauts remembering his long flight yesterday. I was happy to have a new part to play. Although I enjoyed being the intelligent, problem solving Lucia, I thought it might be fun to try out a new occupation.
As usual, I let him take the lead. He slowly outlined the scene and before long, we were serving chocolate milk and pizza to a young boy traveling with his mom and dad. We had to take out the pizza and bake it in a makeshift stool oven. The lid of my face cream made a fabulous vessel for the chocolate milk.
Lola, our unsuspecting cat, transformed into Captain Lola. She flew our plane safely and steadily from the cockpit on the balcony. The young passenger was lucky enough to get a tour of the cockpit and meet the pilot.
After putting out a small fire on the plane and rearranging some items in the cargo hold, I convinced Kojo that we had to take a break for lunch. I helped him take off the vest he had put on to put out the flames and we walked downstairs to the kitchen together.
I became Mommy again and he was “just a boy” as he puts it. When he gets a chance, he loves to play Mommy and assigns me to be the baby. If my voice becomes too normal when conversing, he’ll remind me to speak “baby language” again. He’s a tough director to work for and knows what he’s looking for in his actors. There’s no room for improvisation.
He loves the magic of being able to step out of his three year old self into an exotic role as parent, astronaut, manager or flight attendant. Through role play he gets to explore limits, recycles phrases he’s heard and uses his body in new ways. I often get to see a vision of myself when he plays Mommy.
When Kojo’s Daddy arrives home, I realize that I too enjoy stepping into different shoes. I get to play wife and a variety of other roles throughout the week. We role play all the time.
As this first day of March begins, I get to play writer. I get to sift through the day’s mundane events looking for precious gold. I get to decide who and what to highlight and what emotions or events to discard. I can pretend for a while that what I say or think actually matters to anyone else.