When I was Teghan’s age I was pretty obnoxious. I have the home movies to prove it. I used to make up songs while riding in the car. Actually…. I had just the one. It was called, “Going Down the Road, Yes We Are.” Every line had the same annoying melody, and I made up the words on the spot as I loudly sang a list of things we were passing- followed by “yes we are.”
“Seeing trees and houses, yes we are!” You get the idea.
I did a lot of things I no longer understand. For example, I spent a good percentage of my youngest years wearing a tutu. I liked to pretend I knew ballet, which I didn’t. My friend Billy and I once spent an afternoon seeing how high we could count (it was pretty high). And I was constantly trying to prove I could hold my breath longer than anyone else.
I didn’t always make the best choices. I ate butter straight from the container. And sugar. I thought that if I used a stone to write on the side of our van that it would erase just like a chalkboard. I was wrong about that. I believed that with enough practice I could fly; there were summer days when I spent hours jumping off the porch.
On the playground I used to do daily impressions of Jimmy Swaggart, the TV evangelist. I was also part of a group called The Scream Team, in which a large number of girls went around the playground screaming as a group for no particular reason. There was a bit of competition between me and a girl named Kendal, because we screamed the loudest.
Sometimes I was imaginative. I once used my diary to create a book of spells and then set up a witch fortress in my blow up Yogi the Bear tent. I used to get under the fitted sheet on my bed and crawl to the very end- because I believed it was like being in a whole different world. I turned into a dog several times a day. The dog had super powers, but they probably weren’t real.
I once spent days planning a wedding between a stuffed Siamese cat and a handmade Native American doll. It took place in our hallway, and Mickey Mouse was the best man. And I used to make my Barbies live in a Donny and Marie van because they were poor. Barbie had a baby while living there. She gave birth to a chess piece.
The list goes on. And never mind all my OCD issues, which were cleverly woven into all of these scenarios in one way or another.
So what about Teghan? These recollections make me wonder what unusual behaviors of hers might actually be more typical than I thought. Or better yet- inherited. Sure, she likes to sneak into the kitchen and take a bite off a stick of butter; or dump the sugar on the counter and stick her face in it. What kid doesn’t? She would eat Styrofoam if we let her. Some kids eat glue- which was completely unacceptable to the six year old me, who regularly ate paper to impress her friends.
Lately Teghan has been playing silly games with us. Her favorite game with me is to ask for soup. That’s the entire game. She will come up to me, and holding back giggles will say, “Soup?” and then excitedly brace herself for my reaction. She wants me to yell, “No soup!” Then she falls on the floor in a fit of laughter. I don’t get it, but it’s pretty adorable.
She enjoys the “people in the hole” game quite a bit, too. That’s all Dave. It involves going down into a back room of the basement and sending little people up through a tiny hole in the ceiling, where Teghan retrieves them from the upstairs side of the hole. I set a precedent long ago that mommy doesn’t go in the basement. I watch the upstairs events unfold, usually from the couch. Once all the people are through the hole….she puts them back in the hole again. And yes, this is what passes as family game night in our home.
There’s not a lot of pretend play, so we take what play we can get. But I think there might be more pretend play than we know. Really, I have no idea what’s going through her mind when she puts just one of my shoes on and sprints across the room holding a plastic bag like a purse. The sprinting seems important, but I don’t know why. I don’t understand any more than my parents understood why Barbie wore a sock for a dress and was always holding a pawn.
And remember, I could talk.
I’ve come to realize that maybe Teghan makes more sense than I did at her age. Either way, I love watching the crazy ways this kid chooses to explore her world. And I can’t wait to see what she does next.