Once upon a time, not so long ago, our backyard resembled a zoo. Luckily, most of the animals remained outside and didn’t come in to our apartment, as things would’ve gotten a little squishy in here with all the elephants, penguins, lions, the wolf, and frogs. Can you imagine the fights that would’ve broken out?
It’s been a long time since an elephant stomped on the garden. Or since the lions accompanied us to a restaurant – although Cameron does recall that the not-so-nice ones got sent to Cuba. It seemed as though that part of his imagination became washed-over with the flood of pretend-play with real objects. At first it was play where objects became other objects, and I had to watch what I did lest I kill his baby beluga. Then things became even more object-related. A boat was a boat in the tub, his people were people, and the imagination part of it was in what they did and said. Maybe, just maybe, a boat was a rocket or a train.
Around a week ago it occurred to me just how long it had been since a new animal, or even the old ones, came by to say hello. Then … out of the blue … Cameron began mentioning the wolf again. He’s just a little one, and we saw his footprints on the trampoline. He lives in the bamboo. Hi, old friend, I thought.
No, the elephants and lions and frogs haven’t come back. Let me know if you see them around town, will you? Tell them they’re missed.
Yesterday, however, new friends came to play. Rabbits. Cameron continued with them this morning, catching them with sticks while we walked to the bus. He says he’s built a cage for them in the back yard, and from the sounds of things those bunnies are living in the lap of luxury. He’ll reach down and pick them up as we’re walking, gently pet their heads, and shove them into my purse for safekeeping. But it’s not extended play, they didn’t come up again on the bus, or in the evening.
Other areas of Cameron’s imagination are also quite active. Did you know he’s the one who made the clouds? He built them with wood, and painted them white. Of course, he used a ladder to hang them up there in that blueness. He also made elbow, knee, and bum-pads out of bubblewrap, and hid them. Where? Depends on when you ask him. In the roof, next door at Samuel’s, in the laundry room, here in the kitchen but you can’t see them.
Today in the tub there was a new step in the evolution. Animals are apparently not just cutting it in Cameron’s world. He’s longing for a playmate at home, when I’m busy doing other things. He announced at the end of his bath that there were TWO boys in the tub. Oh-yeah, I thought? The other boy’s name is Eff, I am told. The other boy could brush his own teeth, but needed help getting into PJs. Then Eff helped Cameron pick out a bedtime story … Eff chose one I’ve never seen Cameron pick. All three of us snuggled in Cameron’s bed for story time, then Eff needed a snuggle before I could snuggle Cameron.
He’s asleep now. Very carefully curled up on one side of his bed, arms around his blanket, with just enough room for another little boy between him and his stuffies.
Now, let’s see if Eff sticks around.