“So, pretend my name is Maralynn and my parents are both dead.”
Well, the name is very original, but I’m sure you can imagine the shock that gives a mama’s heart when she hears her sweet daughter’s pretend play, where she is pretending to be an orphan.
It’s even more startling when it becomes a common thing. One day, in pretend play, her parents died in a car crash. The next day, her parents died some other horrendous way. The point is, almost every game my 9-year-old plays includes her parents having perished.
At first I took this pretend play very personally. Clearly, my child hated me and wished I were dead and dreamed and imagined a life without her father and me. If only I were an orphan!
But as the years have passed, I have come to terms with it. So often in stories and movies, children are orphaned. Cinderella. The Boxcar Children. Harry Potter. The Baudelaire children. Tarzan. Anna and Elsa. Dorothy Gale. They so often hear about children who are left alone, and it must be fascinating. In fact, I remember clearly playing games that prominently featured orphans.
Not to mention, the idea of being an orphan and then miraculously finding out your parents were something fantastical is a pretty heady one. Orphans’ parents could be anyone. Harry Potter’s life was miserable and finding out who his parents were brought him into a world of magic and wizardry. The downsides and the realities of being an orphan aren’t relevant to children who are using their imaginations.
It still kind of haunts me when I hear things like this come out of my child’s mouth during her pretend play. But it helps me remember how very lucky I am to be her mom, and how happy I am that both of her parents are still very much here.
Has your child done something shocking during pretend play? Share it with us.