Sunday, February 18, 2007

A Garlic Press, Spatula, Cookie Sheet … and a Pillow

What's the common element here? No, they’re not part of a new trend to cook while snoozing. Nope. Each was at one time a treasured companion to one of our boys. The cookie sheet even had a name: Dorge (George, for those of us who prefer not to communicate in baby talk).

The pillow is now the current favorite. Buddy is a travel pillow that I bought for #2 son when I enrolled him in preschool. The pillow was nameless back then and has been over the intervening 5 years. It’s only in the past week that it resurfaced, was named, and now has pride of place wherever my son happens to land.

Don’t get the idea that we didn’t provide toys for our boys—not at all. They had fun, educational toys and books and puzzles. So why is it that children sometimes glom on to the oddest things and make them their own? I’m guessing that it comes from the same region of the brain that prompts them to go to “kid work” (i.e., play under the bed covers, sometimes yelling at a lazy worker) and invent imaginary children of their own. For a period of time, I was grandmother to five grandchildren, three of whom were named Joey, Maurice, and Francesca. The first time they appeared, I just sat on the couch, bemused, while my preschool-aged son chased his kids around the house, threatening them with grandma (me). Interestingly, my grandkids' appearance seemed to be prompted by my rare moments of rest. I guess mom in chair = kids (or grandkids) acting up.

These days, #1 son, who is in junior high school, enjoys hanging out in his room, listening to a book on CD and playing with his junk collection. This kid has odd bits of metal that he’s accumulated over the years. They become generals and soldiers, warriors and beasts, and always fight the good fight. Today three of them went to a friends house to be trained in the latest combat techniques. (See? It's not just my kids.)

We’ve given up trying to understand the “why’s” of our boys, because the reasons why they do the things they do don’t really matter. What does matter is the “wow” they get when their imaginations meet the mundane and make magic happen.

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