Monday, March 18, 2013


My husband is notorious for buying Riley something at the store every time he goes with her... which is about once a week. That's a whole other issue really and not something I'll get into in this post, but this post does relate to something he bought for her one day - a couple of cars from the Cars movie: Mater and Holley. Cars is a new phenomena in our house. We now have the movie, a couple books, and are familiar with the characters - Mater being one of her favorites.

My daughter is at that age where she has really started to embrace her imagination. I see her playing with toys in such a creative way and am glad that she can now entertain herself more than she has in the past, but she still needs us to entertain her or be her playmates a fair amount of the time. I often don't mind, but it can also be so exhausting.

From the moment she got home with her new cars she has asked us to 'play Mater'. It's a tiring endeavor as it has required a lot of physical activity, including crawling around on my knees on the hardwood floor, and pretending to be something I am not - an animated tow truck. My body is not made for that. And I'm not sure my mind is either.

Imagination. I'm no good at it.

I try my hardest by using the best Mater accent I have while my husband laughs at me from the other room. I try to think of stuff Mater would say, but after a comment or two I am down to nothing. It's pretty sad.

My husband is better at this than I, but I know it's exhausting for him too. I can't put the imagination type play all on him - partly because he deserves a break, but because I want to be able to play too. I want to have fun with my kid and I want her to think of me as someone she has fun with.

I was talking with a friend recently about this topic and she shared that she's never been good at this even as a kid. Art class was torture for her when she was young, and when she had a child of her own? She struggled through that too. She shared "if someone told me exactly what to do I could do it", but if she had to think of stuff on her own she was totally lost.

I tried Googling for help on this, but no matter how I phrased my search it basically brought me to articles about how to help my child be more creative. And in those articles it said to 'play pretend' with your child, but not HOW to do so.

I've always thought of myself as a somewhat creative person. I have no problem with coming up with art projects (even if the internet is often the inspiration), but I was never an 'actor' so to speak. I've had friends go to improve classes to bring this side out of them, but let's face it - there is a slim chance that I will do that.

Mater and Holley with a bunch of my brother's cars from when he was a kid... and a transformer car that Riley thinks is Lighting McQueen.

So I am trying to embrace my creative side (as small as it is sometimes) as best I can, but in the end I realize that what my kid cares about is if I will "play Mater" or not. It's not so much about how imaginative I am after all. I mean, I once said (as Mater, of course) "I like your tires", and now she says it all the time. She doesn't care that it's a totally lame comment. She just loves that I'm there... playing with her. And I do too.

Now if I could just perfect my Mater accent so my husband stops laughing at me.

Does anyone else struggle with pretend play? What do you do to embrace this time with your kid?


  1. Do mean Sally when you talk about Holley? I haven't seen Cars 2 so maybe you are talking about a character from that movie but I cannot think of a Holley from Cars.

    1. I've only seen the first movie so I thought it was Sally too, but I have been corrected by my adamant child. Apparently, Holley is in the second movie.

    2. And kids normally know these things better than we do anyways!! :) If your daughter says it is Holley, then it's Holley! I guess I need to go watch the second movie!

  2. I have a friend who says the same thing about her son, that she has a hard time knowing what to say during "pretend play", so I don't think you're alone. But, I think you hit the nail on the head: it doesn't matter what you say, it's the fact that you're there in the moment, playing with her that matters. I've never seen the movie but maybe you could reenact some of the scenes from the show, places they go, etc. ?? Just an idea ...

  3. Ugh, I am with you on this except I really don't want to have to play pretend ;) I do play along somewhat but definitely not that actively to actually crawl around or anything! Luckily Annie is fine as long as we say we are, for example, the "step mother" from Cinderella, and she just will talk to us and as long as we say "yeah" and "that sounds good!" every once in awhile she's okay :)

  4. Playing pretend is so exhausting for me and I did enjoy it a ton as a child and would consider myself someone with an active imagination. But you are doing it by just DOING IT. Pushing the car and saying "vroom, i'm going so fast!" is enough, you know? You are there and that is what she wants.

    Also - I think of you as creative. Of course, I don't know you well, but the fact that you write and some of the things you share on the blog are inspiring (hello photography!)....anyway, I think you aren't giving yourself enough credit :)

  5. The first thing that came to mind when reading this (and thinking back to an intro to acting class in college-still wonder why I took it) is be the thing. Simple. Cars don't talk, they honk, squeal there tires, have bad mufflers, etc. The 'play' does not have to have a theme, even if you have an animal, car, doll etc. it can be anything and take on any persona. Use that. Is there something you want on working on teaching. Relate it to the toy.

    I think the best way to teach is to play, and it's one way kids learn. Use it. Explain how a car works, why it's good to clean the car keep it nice (not smash/throw things) etc. They might not get all the details....but they do catch on to a lot.

    You are creative..way more than you think. Don't make it too hard. Find the lowest hanging fruit and pick it. :)


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