Why Playing Pretend With My Son is the Best Day Ever

Over 20 years ago, when I was a child, the thought of being a “grown-up” was a concept I couldn’t quite grasp. To my 5 to 10-year-old brain, an adult was far away and nothing I had to think about just yet. To my 6-year-old son, he only wants to be a grown-up so he can pick his own bedtime and eat anything he wants, anytime he wants. He never wants to grow up because then he would have to work, and couldn’t play all day.

I feel you, little man.


My Childhood

I have fond memories of those formative years. I was the only girl, for a time, and my brother was much older. He had no time for me, a little kid 7 years his younger. It was up to me to find alternate means of entertaining myself, as our single mother worked very hard for us (and I understood). 

I played pretend quite a bit. Always, I loved stories. Movies and books and telling ghost stories at sleepovers… any kind of adventure! I wrote plays, short stories, and poems. I made up dance routines – interpretive ones, of course. The worlds I created with my imagination were magical.

My childhood was far from perfect but I know that using my imagination and dreaming of far off lands was not an escape. It was the doorway by which my creativity and spirit of exploration were unlocked. 


My Son’s Childhood

My kiddo just turned 6 a few weeks ago. I am thrilled that he has finally reached the stage I have been dreaming of since discovering I would finally be a mother (in my 30’s, since I wanted to be tired all the time, forever). He wants to pretend with mommy! 

My son lives in a far different world than I did at his age. Technology is helpful, yet invasive. Pretending and imaginative play are harder to achieve during COVID-19 quarantines and social distancing, especially as an only child. 

It is my responsibility, and privilege, to make time every single day for my young dreamer. I’ll hack away at invisible blocks of Minecraft TNT in our make-believe mine (the hallway). I’ll follow his lead as he brings me a crystal, sets it gently on my desk, and whispers “Touch it slowly, with me, mommy.” Of course I will, and he’ll look around in amazement before saying “We did it. Mommy, it’s a whole new world, but not like Aladdin. Let’s explore.”

I’ll creep behind him as he goes room by room, finding a dragon’s cave (the guest room) without a dragon within. “Slay the dragon,” whispers the brave knight. Together, we’ll ascend the spiraling tower (the staircase) to find the dragon (my husband, his bonus dad). The knight will slay the villain to save the princess (his teenage bonus sister) from the dungeon (her bedroom), like a true hero.

And that’s because he is one. 

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