When I was very little, “let’s pretend” was the best phrase and the worst phrase to say or hear. I loved pretending and could live in those created worlds for long hours.
There weren’t a lot of kids my age on our block, but I worked with what I had. When I played with them, we usually created soap operas: domestic life, school life, doctor’s office. We would have long planning sessions about the set up: where we were, who was who, what should we wear, what props did we need, and what was going on. This was the best part of “let’s pretend.” Anything was possible in the planning. But once we started, I forbade the use of saying, “let’s pretend.”
My little friends never understood it. Everything would be fine; we’d be doing a breakfast scene for instance, and suddenly my friend would say, “let’s pretend we have a dog and he wants to come in.” I’d snap, “just do it, you don’t have to say what you’re going to do.” And on and on it would go. Every few seconds, the others would add to the game by saying, “let’s pretend.” It infuriated me and stopped being fun; I’d call it quits for the day.
When I played my brother’s version of “let’s pretend,” they all revolved around Davy Crockett, Rifleman, and Lone Ranger (to name a few). I was pretty much relegated to the character who died, was captured, or jailed: the Indian, the bank robber, the black hat. That got old too.
In the end, I think I enjoyed my private play the best. Did I mention that I was a child control-freak?
I didn’t have a lot of toys but I made full use of what we did have. When I played alone, I was no longer interested in domestic scenes at all. There were no baby dolls. I had a couple of adult type dolls (before the days of Barbie), and I would dress them up in costumes and create sweeping tales of fantasy, war, and tragedy: sometimes as the damsel in distress, sometimes the heroine.
Perhaps my oddest form of pretend play was with marbles. Whereas most children use marbles to play shooting games, which I did on occasion with my less important orbs, I had one set of special marbles who each had names, and with them, I would create intricate worlds and stories. Usually, I laid out these scenes of complex paths, villages, and countries on my parents’ double bed. These stories were about challenge, survival, and conquest. To this day, I’m not sure how I was able to imbue marbles with so many feelings and personalities, but I did. Casts of thousands.
Posted on July 8, 2011, in Memory, Writing Roots and tagged character, childhood, children, control, fantasy, play, pretend, storytelling. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.
i adored my older brother, Jerry. My parents thought he looked liked Johnny Crawford. We would play Army up and down the alley-way and in the back yards of neighbor kids. We had an old tent in our back yard and my brother would sneak my dad’s WW II bayonet out of his handerchief drawer and we would get authentic.
I was more of a create an imaginary, tiny abode out of sticks/moss/caves found in rumpled blankets and inhabit this small dwelling with bugs, fairies, ghosts kind of kid.
After he was gone, I played with his toy sets – Captain Gallant and the French Foreign Legion, Highway Patrol, Army, davy Crockett…probably more as a memorial to him then because I actually liked these games.
Thanks for sharing that story. Love it! Not sure about that bayonet. Reminded me of a neighbor friend of my brother’s who thought it would be fun to play with an ax and managed to split the back of his head open. He didn’t even feel it but we were all alerted by the blood running down his neck.
I pretended by drawing. I made comic strips of the story I was pretending. ( introvert pretending….you can have a cast of characters, but still do it all by yourself. ). :0)
When I got old enough to realize that pretending and real life are 2 different things, I stopped drawing. Kinda sad, but there was a definite point when pretending ended forever, simply because I knew it wasn’t real. I wonder if that happens to everyone.
Looking forward to reading this new blog!
Hey! Thanks for subscribing. Love your story about drawing. My mother was a bit of an artist herself, but I never felt comfortable with that medium. Too left brain (but I try to “pretend” otherwise to this day). LOL.
The words “Let’s Pretend” always mean only the same thing for me: a radio program on Saturday mornings that retold fairy tales in dramatic form. My friends and I never said, “Let’s pretend”. We used the phrase “must be”: “You must be the sheriff and you’re riding down the trail, and this must be a canyon where the bad guy is waiting, and I must be your friend who rode on ahead, and…”
Love it. Thanks. ib
My friends and I had many pretend scenarios, but a favorite was The Beatles. Yes, that was us on air guitar and drums while the records were spinning … until the 99th version of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and someone’s mom would holler “shut that thing off!”. By the way, I was one of the younger, less assertive pretenders, so I was usually Ringo or George while “Paul” and “John” were in the linelight, front and center.
Great memory. Thanks for sharing. IB