Last night Cameron was rather melty on the way home from daycare. It’s been a trend lately, as he’s just wiped out after a fun day at daycare. Something perked him up quickly though: Samuel was coming to play. My neighbours and I have been working out an evening trade, where Cameron plays with them one night, and Samuel comes over another. It’s actually easier having the two of them, as at least for now they’re playing together happily. I turne’em loose in the living room, and enjoy the sounds of happy-fun play and laughter.
It’s interesting to hear the differences between the two boys. They’re close in age – Samuel is a very verbal and quick little guy, who is seven months older than Cameron.
Samuel likes to direct play acting. He’s always got a ‘scene’ in mind, and loves to get others to do what he thinks they should do. His scenes are usually loosely based on stories his dad made up, or movies he’s watched – with a superhero or two thrown in for good measure. Batman or Spiderman usually makes an appearance. I do find this interesting, as I know his parents don’t use the TV much at all.
Cameron’s reaction to this depends on his mood. If he doesn’t wish to play whatever it is, he can be totally oblivious, and I usually retreat to another room to laugh at my son’s determination to ignore whatever it is he doesn’t wish to play. Usually he’s quite cooperative though. Where his creativity shows up though is in things. Samuel usually uses a sword as a sword, a ball as a ball, a phone as a phone. He wouldn’t pick up a slipper and pretend it was a phone, for instance. He’ll ask what a new object is for. But Cameron? The identities of objects are fluid. A green T shirt piled in a box lid can be a plate of spinach pizza, a patch of grass to sit on, or a pet lizard in a cage. He’ll try to figure out what he can do with a new object long before he’ll ask what it’s really used for … if he ever does.
Watching them mesh their play styles is like listening to two musicians playing different pieces, who gradually adjust themselves, alter tempo or change key, and soon are playing together. Samuel starts off most times resisting Cameron’s ability to pretend about things, and will deny that the straw is a telescope. “That’s a straw, silly!” But soon, Cameron wins on that one, and Samuel plays with the object as whatever it is that Cameron has decided it is. On Cameron’s part, he’ll usually start off confused about what role he plays in whatever scene, and has difficulties shifting his own identity as easily as he changes that of an object. Eventually he warms to the idea, and happily pretends to be a knight on a horse. Together, the two boy-knights gallop away into the sunset after the Nimoo-kitty dragon, waving their straw-swords.