Silence from Eloise’s bedroom means one of two things: looking at picture books or the stealthy dismantling of her room. Earlier this week, it was the latter of the two.
She had grown tired of cutting ribbon and yarn for a bird’s nest and decided Dr. Brown Bear’s coat was in need of a summer trim.
“Mom, his fur is covering his eyes and making it hard to see. Plus, he is too fluffy and will get hot.” she explained.
All valid observations. I could not argue.
And so, I did not discourage or call a halt to the trim. Instead I began repeating, “faux fur does not grow back like real animal’s fur.”
“I know mom,” she muttered without looking up from her focused grip.
I walked out of her room and my thoughts drifted to my childhood playroom. In that space my brothers and I hatched great ideas, and many more not so great ones. Wishing to encourage, yet streamline our imaginative energy, our mother poured countless hours creating tangible role plays for the three of us.
There was the grocery store with shelves stocked with dry goods and canned food. We took turns being the cashier, and enjoyed sacking the groceries much more than shelving. Our bank’s books were never reconciled, and no doubt we withdrew more play money than the amount scribbled on the deposit forms.
My brother, Tyler, strived to make any scenario action packed. And so he robbed our bank. I appeased his twisted plot as I found satisfaction in carting him off to our makeshift jail, the secret tunnel.
My favourite role play was school. I know– nerdy.
I was always the teacher. I was the oldest, the bossiest, and could talk and write on the chalkboard at the same time. I delighted in grading my students’ homework with the red correcting pencil. My brothers were never attentive students. That made me really cross and I often had to hand out demerits.
That night I had a vision of setting up a faux pet salon for Eloise. Thereafter, I was restless as the excitement of sharing this brainwave overshadowed my need of sleep.
Not even two bites into breakfast I blurted my pitch for opening a pet salon for her animals. Her eyes opened wide and she nearly spit out her mouthful of Cheerios.
“Are you serious, mom? That sounds AWESOME!” she squealed.
She inhaled the rest of her breakfast and was ready to launch her new business. As I worked to gather all the props, she opened the salon and ushered in the waiting customers.
She trimmed, massaged, washed, combed, and made custom beaded collars. Hair bows and favourite play jewellery were final touches of pizazz.
I joined in the grooming when asked, but enjoyed stepping back even more and capturing our terrific Tuesday morning at home.
An hour later the salon closed as Princess Eloise’s flight to Sri Lanka was soon departing. She was off to rescue animals with her betrothed Prince Phillip.
Eloise would convince you there is no need to leave the house as imagination can take you anywhere in the world. And she means it.
There are days that I find playing 20 different characters exhausting. In those bleary eyed moments, I step back and remind myself that this magical phase will all too soon be gone. After the pep talk, I go refill my mug and feel grateful for the strong coffee that keeps me on cue with the ever changing plot and visits from unannounced storybook characters.
If her memory of childhood forever conjures feelings of happiness and good old fashioned fun just as mine does for me, I say job well done.