Category Archives: Make-believe

Top five signs we are living among elves.

I’ve been collecting images on my camera of evidence of little elfish behavior in our home. I suspect the results are the work of elves because I never actually see or hear the little creatures going about their tasks. Instead, I am surprised by what I find. Sometimes I am mildly annoyed by what I see. Other times I am infuriated. Most times, though, I have to shake my head and laugh out loud at my discoveries. OK. So here we go, in no particular order.

#5: Every. Single. Time. I go to put the baby in either his car seat or his bouncy rocking chair, I find that someone, or some-two more likely, have fastened the buckles together. This one drives me crazy! Like I don’t have enough going on already. I finally get the baby ready to go out the door, lay him in his seat—after many, many minutes of schlepping out bags of random shite, and the two girls—only to find that I can’t get his damn arms inside the straps, because the elves have buckled them together! Grrrrrr.


Trying to undo Mommy’s sanity, one freaking buckle at a time. (It’s working!)

#4: No matter how many times I remove the strings or hair ties I find attached to the puzzle cabinet doorknobs—essentially preventing the doors from opening—they always seem to reappear. Could be minutes, hours, or days later. This is one that falls into both the shaking my head and mildly annoying categories.

Maybe one of our elves will be a girl scout one day. Or a sailor.

#3: I never know what kinds of things I am going to find in the various drawers in our home when I go to look for something or put something away. The other afternoon, after I had folded the laundry, I discovered these two babies, presumably napping, when I went to put the clothing away. Sorry to have disturbed you, babies!


#2: This one is similar to #3. I guess I should have written, I never know what kinds of things I am going to find ANYWHERE. Like when I went to retrieve the camera bag and charger to get ready for our upcoming vacation to Georgia. I finally found the bag behind the rocking chair in my bedroom (it had gone missing from its spot on the desk), and this is what I discovered inside:


Some felt bread and cheese, paired with a piece of lettuce, one mushroom, a pink plate, and a shakable jar of chocolate sprinkles.

And then, not to be outdone by the bigger pocket, I found hidden inside the battery compartment, two little wooden cookies, waiting to be devoured by someone at some time.


And just last night, as I was adjusting my pillow, my hand stumbled upon a crumpled up paper airplane. I swiftly removed it from its hidey spot and tossed it on the floor.

The bed is actually a favorite dumping ground for our elves. I’ve been poked in the ass so many times by princess crowns, wooden veggies, and baby doll hands, I should almost be at the point now where I’m checking under the covers nightly like Fraulein Maria looking for spiders before the thunderstorm.

And the #1 sign we are living among elves: Stuff goes missing. All the time. When in doubt, we simply check one of the girls’ purses/tote bags/backpacks/baskets etc. Or, head down to the basement, where after a week or more of unsupervised play, treasures—among trash—abound.

Just this morning, I was searching for Nora’s backpack, in which to store some playthings for our trip. Again, when I finally located it, I had to dump out its contents to make space for the stuff I wanted to put in it. Among the stash—probably used for a recent make-believe game of school—was a pile of coins, several puzzle piece cubes, a James Joyce novel, some kind of prayer booklet, a stripey-orange stuffed armadillo, one sandal, and a bathing suit. Hmmmm. Must’ve been an interesting day at school.


Flash Update: As I was typing out this post today, I had to take a break to retrieve the baby from his bouncy seat. After I did—and I mean IMMEDIATELY after—Frances, who was getting ready to come color with me at the table, said, “Hole on, mama. I be right dere.”

And for the first time, as I glanced back over my shoulder (I almost didn’t bother to look!), I finally witnessed one of the elves at work. I strode across the room in an effort to reach the camera in time and—SNAP! Gotcha, elf! Totally busted.


Should I be worried that my children are likely already developing compulsive behaviors???


Birthing play toys, nursing baby dolls, and neti-potting. All in a day’s work (play).

You’ve likely heard the phrase: art imitates life. How about: toddler and preschooler imitate life?

No? Surely those of you living and/or familiar with small children, can recognize their capacity to be inspired by both the mundane and significant details of the lives of those individuals within their intimate inner circle. And, their subsequent aptitude for acting out, in all their make-believe glory, those details, rituals, and behaviors.

Over the past three days, my oldest daughter has “given birth” to three baby dolls, two stuffed dogs, and one plush, half baby, half mermaid. Here is a brief synopsis of the process:

She goes into her bedroom for privacy, proceeds to stuff the play-fetus-of-the-moment down the front of her shirt/sweater/footie pajamas, emerges to show us all the spectacle that is growing inside of her, and then makes a big show of all the excitement and expectation surrounding the upcoming birthing event. Then, she retreats back to the bedroom for what I imagine is the world’s most pain-free labor, and re-emerges with the play-child wrapped in a blanket or covered in a crib, only to unveil him or her to the whole room of waiting-with-bated-breath-family-members—me, Franny and Liam. We go through the rituals of greeting and holding the baby-dog-doll-merchild, only to do it all again many hours later.

The youngest has only birthed one baby doll so far; she prefers to push her babies around in the stroller with a tote bag slung over her shoulder, stopping occasionally to lift the baby from her seat and “nurse” the baby mid-stride.

To top off the latest string of imitation events, just last night, my husband caught the oldest child attempting to neti-pot—is that even a verb?—with a play tea-cup, in the bath (I’ve been using one to lessen my cold symptoms this week). I thought this last action could potentially end up as a near-drowning event, but she seemed to handle the forced water to the nose like a pro; there was very little sputtering and coughing.

I find it so amusing, satisfying, and flattering to see my beloved little people imitating one of their favorite grown-ups—me.


Adventures in neti-potting. Note the “lips” tattoo that has resided on her chest for the past two weeks. Liam has declared it gone by tonight’s bath.

Make-Believe Hour Starring Daddy Cat and Baby Cats

We’re big into imaginative play right now in our house. The girls will keep themselves occupied for hours playing house and dolls. Occasionally they prefer to have an adult take part. Liam is a much better sport at this than I am. He has infinitely more patience than I do. And he’s rather good at it all, I will admit.

I walked out of the bathroom this evening after enjoying a bubble bath to the following scene in the living room:

Liam is rocking Nora in his arms like a baby and swaying back and forth. He’s shushing her and she’s squinting her eyes tight, lying limp in his arms, pretending to be asleep.

He looks up at me and offers by way of an explanation: “We’re playing cats.” Obviously.

Frances then demands to be held in the same way. After her turn playing sleeping cat, Liam proceeds to tuck both girls in under the covers on the couch.

Nora: “Daddy cat?”

Liam: “Yes, baby cat?”

Nora: “Can you get me some milk?”

Liam: (offering up a bowl of pretend milk) “Sure, baby cat.”

Nora: (licks pretend milk out of bowl)

Frances: “Me!”

Liam: “You want milk too, big-sister cat?”

Frances: “Heh!” (this is Franny speak for yes).

After observing my adoring smile and subsequent grabbing of the laptop, Liam added, “Feel free NOT to write about me being daddy cat tonight on your blog.”

“Why?” I asked. “You don’t want people to know you’re a good dad?”

I get where he’s coming from. But this is my space for capturing memories. And, with all due respect, I think this is a sweet one. These girls love their dad.

In addition to playing baby cats, house and dolls with the girls, Liam’s also working with them on their putting game in the basement from time to time, while exposing them to Bobs Marley and Dylan. He’s teaching them how to build fires in the fireplace, do yard work, catch and throw, and lots of other respectable manly-fatherly types of pursuits. How well-rounded they’ll be.