Role Playing in the Adult World
As parents, we all have our own list of fears about what our children might do or how they may develop. Try as we might, we can’t always shut off the self-talk that lurks in our minds. So, I’m sure you can imagine how I felt when my tiny daughter, Zarine, who was three years old at the time, said to me in a casual and off-handed way, “Mommy, I want to be a mommy soon.”
I casually questioned her in a roundabout way to make sure I had heard this statement correctly. And, sure enough, she repeated it again…very emphatically this time, “I want to have a baby.” Zarine had it all worked out, “I want to have a baby in my tummy and have Dr Sloan (my obstetrician) bring it out. I want to bathe it, and feed it, and play with it. Good idea?”
Good idea???! For which one of us would this be a good idea?
Not too long after this conversation, I happened to have lunch with Jan. Now, I have trusted Jan for advice on people and their personalities — but this situation I was sure would stump her. Well, it didn’t. She was the picture of calm and logic that I wish I had been when my daughter first talked with me.
Jan said my daughter was displaying a readiness to live in the adult world. We already know from my previous blog, Do you Realize Your Three-Year-Olds Already Know What They Want To Be When They Grow Up?, that watching the games our children play can lead to insights about the careers they may be interested in pursuing. This was really no different. My daughter was role playing her future — her expression of adult life placed her in the role of “mother.”
Since then, I have often watched Zarine mothering her dolls — and also her baby brother — in similar ways that I parent the two of them. She comforts them, teaches them about good habits, and puts them in “time out” whenever she feels they may need it.
Zarine has consistently told me how much she wants to be a mommy and have a baby. I have learned to use these declarations as an opportunity to coach her about the requirements of living in the adult world. I have talked about the joys and rewards of raising children along with the necessary responsibilities like paying bills, not crying when things don’t go your way, and delaying gratification. I have repeated — over and over — that each requirement takes years to develop. Paying bills, for instance, begins with learning to write your name, finishing school and college, and finding a career that you love.
The talks seem to be taking root. My daughter now says that she wants to be a Doctor Mommy or an Author Mommy.
Good idea? Absolutely!