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Daughter shows mom how art imitates life

March 14, 2013|Amy Dulebohn

For the past few months, I feel like I live in an acting studio.

My daughter's favorite hobby of late is acting out scenes from her favorite books, TV shows, or devising her own scenarios that involve these best-loved characters.

We portray numerous characters. It's all up to her. We perform as most everyone who appears on "Dora the Explorer," "Caillou," "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood" and "The Berenstain Bears," to name a few.

Sometimes, it is as simple as a role reversal, where my daughter plays Mommy and I must be the young child. Or, I am still Mommy, and my not-quite-3-year-old is "Baby Ella," who coos, drinks from a bottle, eats baby food, wears diapers, and isn't able to walk yet. I would love to know why she chose the name "Ella," as it no where close to her name, nor does it show up in any of her books or TV shows.

Obviously, we never have a dull moment. These theatrics go on in the morning, in the car, and, basically, all the time at home. These scenes also are often repeated at the baby-sitters, and family members' homes. 

She also directs, telling me exactly who I am and what to say. If I mess up, I am required to repeat my lines until they are delivered to her satisfaction.

Her toys and stuffed animals get in on the act, too, as they are given various rolls to fill, with their lines being delivered by either myself or her. There is more acting here, with the toys sometimes portraying someone other than themselves. For instance, a teddy bear might fill the roll of Boots the Monkey, Dora's trusty sidekick, while the actual Boots toy sits out, or plays someone else. 

I pay attention to what kind of scenes she focuses on the most. It's helpful for me to know what she understands and is intrigued by enough to create and act out, over and over.

I notice that she often has many little girls in her repertoire. It makes sense that she would emulate other children. She also likes us to be part of a family with numerous siblings. Again, because she is an only child, I can completely understand why she would center her play around a big family.

What was a bit worrisome was when she was playing the mother of a multitude of children. She came to them, arms cradled as though she was carrying a newborn. "Look, I just got a baby," she said.

"Where did you get the baby?" I asked, hoping she didn't notice the nervous quiver in my voice.

"From the dentist," she replied.

I guess that answer should relieve me, but it really didn't.

It goes without saying that this constant role playing can be exhausting for a harried single parent. I admit, at times, I am in no mood for playing the acting game. Sometimes I even cringe when she says, "Hey, Mommy, let's pretend ...." But I take a deep breath and indulge her, if only for a few minutes.

I have said before that I wanted to be a rock star, and she made me feel like one. Surely, I must have dreamed of being an actress, too. Now, my daughter is helping me imagine that kind of life. But more importantly, I'm learning more about my daughter, and there's no acting there.



Amy Dulebohn is a page designer and feature writer at The Herald-Mail. Her email address is amyc@herald-mail.com.

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