tickling the imagination

Remember as a child trying very hard to convince yourself that your dolls were secretly alive and would erupt with activity and conversation as soon as you left for the dinner table? As my footsteps sounded toward the closed door of my room I would imagine the mad scramble as they tried to place themselves exactly where I’d left them. During one phase I used to sneak up on my own room, pop the door open, and study them all with a beady-eyed gaze. A few times I thought there were slight changes, but I was never certain.

For a while it seemed as though Norah was not playing very much with her toys. They just sat in their baskets collecting dust and she was perpetually asking me, “Pease, Mommy, can I have something to hold?” Then I realized the problem. My house was too darn neat. I began to strew things around and leave things out and suddenly she was playing. Then I decided to tickle her imagination. I started setting up things for her to find–creating a little tea party in progress on the balcony and leaving the door open, or making a fort on the living room couch right before she gets up from rest time. It was a happy day when I found a huge set of used magnetic trains and wooden tracks at the outdoor market. (Only sometimes I sit down “just to set it up” for her to find and end up running some trains myself for a little while . . . my best track yet was a figure eight with a bridge right over the crossing.)

I like to sneak in her room and tuck Goat into bed with a book on his lap and glasses on his nose. Or put two little animals with tea cups facing each other under the bed. Today I set up a birthday party for the dolls in the dollhouse, complete with a wrapped gift and a cake on the table. (Recipe for one miniature cake: cut a circle from a slice of zucchini bread and frost with the leftover lemon mousse in the fridge.) “I guess it’s rest time, let’s go . . .Oh, look! The dolls are having a birthday party! Whose birthday do you think it is?” and so left her to it. Judging by the repeated birthday anthems sounding from her room, each doll has now had a turn being the birthday girl.

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15 Responses to tickling the imagination

  1. Madeline says:

    I hope I can be a mom just like you.

  2. Candace says:

    Betsy, you’re amazing. This is beautiful.

  3. sharon mac says:

    …wow…ptl for his grace in and through you!

  4. Lexi MacKinnon says:

    This is so cool! What a special idea!

  5. Haley says:

    1. I love this post. I was just thinking the other day, “why in the world doesn’t Anna play with her toys more?” and I think you described the answer (and the solution) perfectly. I’m on board with Operation: Imagination Tickle!

    2. That dollhouse! Such a perfect size for a 2-year-old AND it’s wooden! You don’t happen to know where we could find something similar, do you?

    • betsy says:

      Dear Haley,
      I’m so glad you liked the post–come back and let me know any new ideas/twists you come up with to get our littles PLAYING. 🙂 The dollhouse is Melissa and Doug, and we found it in a department store here for Norah’s Christmas gift. I think that Melissa and Doug is a brand available in the US? If I were doing it over again with more time to find one, I’d try to buy it used online first, as it’s pretty sturdy and would last several miniature owners.

  6. teamtabb says:

    You are a fabulous mom. I love it! I think it must be more fun to do this with girls, however. I feel like my creative limits are stretched in playing “parking garage” with JJ…”and where do you want to park the ambulance?…the red car?…the race car?”

    I still can’t figure out how to make a figure-8 out of his train tracks, either. I think we’re missing some pieces.

    • betsy says:

      I loved this comment, Kristin, you are so funny! You now have a girl, so . . . maybe your life won’t always be parking mini-cars. 🙂

      As to the figure 8, I am aware there are several schools of thought on this. In my view, it is best constructed using the bridge to create the center crossing. However, if the bridge is needed elsewhere It is possible to use the X-piece or two Y-pieces connected. I’m 30 years old and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to fall in love with trains.

  7. Pingback: of Goat’s birthday | part of the main

  8. Lisa Ross says:

    Sounds like Norah is ready for a snuggle time reading of ” The Doll People ” A wonderful book where the dolls in a doll house come alive and have adventures.One of my kids favorite books both boys and girls.You are an amazing mom, your children are so blessed. I miss you.

  9. Pingback: of goat’s happy day | part of the main

  10. Pingback: of imagination afoot | part of the main

  11. Barbara C says:

    Love it. I think this is just what we need. A little tickling. 🙂

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