Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Play's The Thing

We went to the monthly coffeehouse at the Waldorf school the other day. I bought Charlie a cute little wooden puzzle of cars and trains. He's not much of one for puzzles (unlike his friend Jonas, who lives for the fit between this and that) but I thought this one would capture his interest. And it did... he took all the pieces out, gave them names, and acted out stories with his new cast of characters. Over hours of play they never did make it back into the puzzle frame. "Put pieces together to make a whole? Can't you pay someone to do that?" seems to be his attitude.

It was typical of Charlie's play. The child lives in narrative. His very favorite thing to do in the world is read books. His second favorite thing to do is to take the characters from books and cartoons, or to make them up whole cloth, and create his own stories. There is no third. In the bath he narrates conflict between the fire truck and the bubbles. At the dinner table his hands turn into birds and lay eggs in the "nest" of mashed potatoes. In the car seat the two edges of his belt buckle have an argument with each other about whether they should stay locked together. He doesn't like being presented with "facts" head-on, but turn it into a story and he can get enthusiastic about anything. I love it. And I'm so looking forward to the years of fantasy and exploration through narrative together.

(And perhaps eventually he'll warm up to puzzles!)