Last summer, a river ran through my living room. Its source was an oscillating fan. I suspect it had something to do with the furniture turning into submarines, but all I knew for sure was that if I wanted to sit in them, I had to be sure to tuck in my legs so that we could shut the door. This rule was null, of course, when said furnishings were acting as school buses, or sleeping cars attached to the dining car (i.e. the dining room), traveling through the woods of the kitchen.
Upstairs, across the hall from Rapunzel's tower (or is it Tinkerbell's room?), the master bedroom plays double duty as a ballroom and a church, and my walk-in-closet houses a dragon. Fairies live in the willow in our backyard, though they're thinking of moving to Pixie Hollow, which is conveniently located on the deck behind Grandma & Grandpa's house.
Everyday, there's a whirlwind of weddings, balls, and anniversary parties. Any container that can fit a baby doll is routinely transformed into a bathtub, a bed, or a baptismal font. A costume gown may have Disney's Cinderella displayed on its skirt, but that doesn't deter my preschool princess from using it for Sleeping Beauty, the fairest queen from the uncommercialized "Queen and the Frog" (it's kind of like the Frog Prince, only better), or whichever other character could be imagined in a lovely blue dress. Playdates consist of running back and forth from whichever rooms currently house a school, a park, or a castle. And I'm loving being along for the ride.
It's not as if it doesn't try my patience, especially when real life must intrude on play so that someone can get to bed on time. I've let out many an exasperated sigh when informed that the mermaid cannot leave the bathtub or Cinderella shouldn't be expected to exchange glass slippers for winter boots when leaving the house. There's been a time or two that she's refused to leave our bed because our burgundy duvet was her Blue Fairy dress. The colour disparity alone was enough to drive me up the wall. Nevermind the countless tasks that had come to a halt mid-way because Mommy forgot that she's no longer Snow White, she's the nameless girl from Puff the Magic Dragon. We're both still learning the balance between playing along and towing the line.
The constant pretend, however, can work in a parent's favour. I got her to open up for the dentist on the promise of sparkly princess teeth, and taught her to wash herself in the bath by creating her own soap-bubble outfit, from soapy pearl necklace to soapy glass slippers...and everything in between (including soapy unmentionables - she can be thorough when she wants to). After being asked on a few occasions to let Mommy finish her chapter before attending to post naptime activities, she announced she really needed to work on her Tinkerbell chapter and pulled out a colouring book. I now have a child's desk set up in my office, and the end of naptime no longer signals the end of productive research work.
I try to remind myself that it's a privilege to be privy to her pretending. To see that big ole' brain she hides behind those big blue eyes weaving all her experiences into an elaborate tapestry of play. Everything she's seen, everything she's read, everything she's done is right there, often in amusing combinations. Someday all too soon, she'll save all this imaginative processing for her dreams. These filters are good, for they soon will be necessary. But Mommy will miss being allowed behind the curtain. Maybe I'll have to encourage her to start a blog. ;)