Monday, January 23, 2012

Aye Aye, Captain Macie!

It’s no secret that Macie thinks she is the boss. The jury is still out concerning how Macie will handle this position of power- will she be a benevolent leader or a reckless tyrant? Only time will tell what kind of person Macie will be, but one thing is certain- she enjoys exhibiting her role of power in pretend play. Macie started pretend play with her baby dolls a few months ago, but now that she is a year and a half old the pretend play has become more imaginative. One of her favorite games involves pretending to be a ship Captain. For Christmas Grandma Ann bought her a slide with faux stone sides, turrets, and a spoked steering wheel. The faux stone sides and turrets make it great for castle play, but the wheel makes for great ship play. Right now Macie prefers to pretend the slide is a ship, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before we switch to castle play (probably around 3-4 when she will inevitably become obsessed with princess play).

In her ship captain game, Macie scurries up the faux rock steps to the slide landing (i.e. her ship) with a huge, playful grin. Once at the top she looks me in the eye and shouts “ae, ae”, prompting me to salute her formally. At Macie’s request, I dutifully shout “aye aye, Captain Macie” and salute her with zeal. Delighted with my response, Macie giggles enthusiastically and gets to work vigorously spinning her spoked steering wheel. Once at the helm, I ask Macie where she might like to visit and suggest destinations. Lately we have “visited” Spain, Ireland, Greece, Denmark, France, Australia, Hawaii, and Mexico. Once we cross the ocean and land is in sight we come up with an activity or task. For example, we have rescued a stranded puppy from a remote island (one of her stuffed animals), gone horseback riding on the beach (her rocking horse), and rode ATVs (her mini-four-wheeler) to explore the local wilderness. Throughout this game, Macie’s enthusiasm and attitude remind me of Pippi Longstocking- confident, adventurous, intelligent, self reliant, and strong. Like Pippi, Macie is a fantastic sailor who prefers life at sea to the dull constraints of life on land.

After about 20 minutes or so Macie looses interest in being a ship Captain and moves onto something else, but we play this game at least 4 times a week- always at Macie’s request.  I will continue to encourage creative pretend play because it allows Macie to use her imagination. In addition to playing ship Captain, Macie also enjoys cooking and caring for her babies. When playing with her babies I encourage Macie to pretend she is a doctor (she has a stethoscope, thermometer, and medicine dispenser) as well as mother. When cooking I encourage Macie to respond to the flavors and we talk about the different types of food she can make and why. I want Macie to be exposed to all life situations- including everyday life (like cooking and caring for children), career  (doctor, chef, vet), and adventure/traveling (ship Captain, exploring the wilderness).  After all, the goal is to help Macie become a thoughtful, creative, and resourceful adult so that she can have a fulfilled, happy life. I believe that pretend play is a great way to start Macie down that path…and we both have fun in the process J


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