So, my little man has tackled many a skill in the last fifteen months since we started therapy. Some have been hard won, entailing protocols and reinforcers and data sheets. Others have just COME, as if from some cosmic skill fairy.
Pretend play was one of those things that kind of stumped me. How do you teach pretend play? Sure, you can introduce scenarios, and bribe siblings to play along, but you can't force spontaneity, or contrive imagination. Yet every visit to a "typical" preschool setting involved kids little C's age running around like tiny maniacs, pretending to "be" this or that. I KNEW this was a skill that - if lacking - would be problematic in our Quest for Typical Schooling.
He's so literal-minded sometimes, that it worries me, the thought that he may be TECHNICALLY FUNCTIONAL in a class of his peers, but never really fitting in, never QUITE drumming to the same beat.
It breaks my heart to think of my baby always on the outside looking in.
So we've been plugging along at learning every other skill set necessary to function in a typical preschool (IN THREE MONTHS, HOLY COW), and trusting that the rest will come in time.
Last night, mama's in a pretty crappy mood. The day has been filled with DETAILS of every shape and size--doctor's appointments, scheduling FOLLOW UP doctor's appointments, remembering this, checking up on that, and I just want PEACE when the end of the day comes. What I get instead is endless traffic on the drive home, a house that looks like it's been hit by a small tsunami (despite constant efforts to keep up with it), and hungry, expectant children as soon as I walk in the door. Some nights it feels like I JUST CAN'T KEEP UP, and last night was one of those. By the time food is scrounged up, little bellies are filled, and the dog is dragged out of the trash can AGAIN, I am desperate for just five minutes to myself - in the short minutes left before bath time, I need to NOT BE NEEDED just long enough to catch my breath.
Then I hear it, a little, "Help me. Help me." Lord forgive me, my first thought was an exasperated, "Now what?"
I figure he is upset because a piece of one of his favorite toys has come off (again) and the anxiety that is rearing its ugly head here lately is driving him to seek someone - anyone - to put it back together.
Instead, he wanders around the corner with one of my tennis shoes in his hand, and thrusts it at me with a grin, declaring "It's a glass slipper!"
I stare at him, stunned. Not only is this the first time I've heard him string such a long sentence together, he is communicating an imaginative CONCEPT, to me. This isn't "Give me milk" or "Pick me up," this is a precious snapshot of what is going on in his head at that exact moment.
He is pretending.
He then proceeds to thrust his tiny foot into my shoe, lock eyes with me again and declare excitedly, "It fits!"
He has been watching the Cinderella episode of Super Why lately, and here was the result. This kid was taking the concept of the show, processing it, and incorporating it into his play. ALL ON HIS OWN.
Hey, Pre-K? Consider this me, putting you on notice. We're coming for ya.