Toddler Fantasies

Sophie wakes up every morning, pretends that her stuffed-bear tells her, “You’re a baby and I’m a big girl,” and then sternly corrects the stuffed bear: “No, YOU’RE the baby and I’m the big girl.” It’s very complicated. I am fascinated by Sophie’s fantasies.

She re-enacts everything she sees. She wraps her blanket around her body and declares she is a mommy, coming out of the shower — and she looks just like me in a towel, almost. She re-enacts Hullabaloo’s “Skip to my Lou,” move by move. She is obsessed with re-enacting Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots, continually pestering me to find her a tree that she can climb like a princess, and I am thankful that I have found her a princess book that I can like.

Yesterday, Sophie was brushing my hair, declaring, “I’m making you a very pretty brave.” Brave is her word for “braid.” Sophie often gets her hair braided at daycare. “Look up,” she told me, while she pretend-braided my hair, “Who made the sky? Where does God live?” Sophie’s role-playing is my best glimpse into what happens at daycare.

I answered very carefully: “Some people believe God lives in the sky, and other people believe God lives inside each of us, or in every flower and bit of light. Where do you think God lives?”

“Sara knows,” Sophie said, full of the certainty of a two-year-old. I will be glad when Sophie moves out of Sara’s daycare into a more secular preschool. But, more than fragments of Christian doctrine, I think what Sophie really learns at daycare is how to role-play. Or maybe she would do this anyway?

At the park yesterday, she ran up to me and announced, “I Goldilocks. You be the bear. You say, ‘Goldilocks, why’d you eat my porridge? Why’d you break my chair?’ Then you chase me.” We play this Goldilocks game about once a week, and I wouldn’t have thought much about it, except that all the other moms said, “Wow.” Apparently, re-enacting classic children’s stories while experimenting with perspective and questioning character motivation is not what most two-year-olds do. Most two-year-olds at the park were just eating sand.

I’m trying not to be that kind of mom who thinks that everything my daughter does shows how brilliant she is.  But, deep down, I may be that mom. I’m so immensely proud of Sophie, at least when I’m not worrying that she’s insane.


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