I slept late today, mainly because Daisy kept me up all night. When I woke up, Daisy was laying out his role for their game of pretend: Okay, you be the wolf and I’ll be the mermaid. And you don’t know that I’ve lost my home. And you…
It goes on for a while. He plays along, he gets it wrong, Daisy corrects him. And on, and on. “Welcome to my entire 8 hour day,” I tell him.
Daisy is very, very into pretend play. She has a great imagination so her story lines can be pretty amusing. Yet, I’m just not into these games. I’d rather make something. I try to bend the games my way (“Hey, let’s build a cove for the mermaid to hide in!”), but it rarely works. Instead, I half-heartedly play my role as the prince, the mermaid, the wolf, the horse, or (my favorite) the-big-purple-blue-black-bear.
Dave is great at these games. He creates incredible story lines, does great accents, and throws everything into it. My mom is great at these games. I am not.
So, the amo, the I love for this post… I love a timer. Yep, a kitchen timer (but because it’s me it’s the one on my iphone). Bear with me as I shift gears, and then dramatically bring it back to the topic at hand.
I am, at heart, a teacher. Teachers love timers. I learned my favorite timer trick when I was a parapro. The classroom had gotten way way too loud during writing time, and instead of repeatedly asking for quiet (and driving herself nuts) or threatening to take time off of recess, the teacher said, “You’ve gotten too loud. We’re going to have silence for five minutes. When the timer goes off you can talk again.” It worked magically. When the timer went off, the kids talked again, but in much quieter voices. I used that method in every classroom I’ve taught in and it always works.
Daisy responds pretty well to a timer. If I warn her we have five more minutes at the playground and then set a timer, 80% of the time she’ll go without a fuss when she hears the timer go off. (This is a pretty good percentage for my girl.)
So, what does this have to do with Daisy’s imaginary games? It occurred to me today that a timer might work on me. Rather than spending 4 hours half-heartedly playing the mermaid while I’m thinking about all that I have to clean, the laundry that needs to be done, what I want to photograph, how to solve the problem that is our dining room, and so on and so on…I set the timer. I told Daisy I’d play mermaid with her for 15 minutes, but that when the timer went off I’d have to clean the kitchen. It worked. She was happy because she had my undivided attention. I was able to throw myself into the game and actually enjoy it - because I knew there was an end in sight. I did the voices, incorporated plot twists, fashioned an outfit for Clementine. It was all a lot of fun for both of us and 15 minutes seemed to totally satisfy Daisy. I’m sure it won’t be this way all the time, but at least it worked today.