The Land of Make Believe

Eavesdropping might not be polite, but who could resist listening to children as they make up a game?

My cousin and his family came and stayed over the night after Christmas, and we had a wonderful time with all of them. The oldest, now seven, taught us how to play dominoes. When the adults were busy doing other things, the two girls played together.Tessa and Annika playing

Tessa and Annika turned coasters (each with a different animal), into a guessing game. They held them up like playing cards and tried to figure out which animal the other had (I heard Tessa offer a clue “Susan and Cherisse have one…”—it was a rooster).

They played the coaster game several times. Also popular was the wooden ferry I had purchased years ago from a toymaker in Maine. It is simple but clever, with two ramps, the car ferry, and two cars to transport back and forth. Many children (and I) have enjoyed it over the years. Yesterday it was the focal point of an elaborate game, along with various commandeered items like a blue dog bed, which became a swimming pool. Annika fashioned a ferry captain and mother and daughter passengers out of strips of paper torn from a bag. Tessa knitted a person. These people rode the ferry, got into cars to travel to points unknown, and visited a castle built out of coasters and dominoes (two levels: living room, stove and sink but no kitchen, and two bedrooms).

The children had fun, but I took almost as much pleasure in how happy they were playing together, inventing their make-believe world.

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