- Various characters from the Peanuts comics -- especially Frieda, the girl with naturally curly hair, and most recently Ruby, a little girl so ancillary to the narrative that she doesn't even make the extensive Wikipedia list! Ruby shows up for about 6 strips total, as best I can tell. I'm still baffled by BB's fascination with all things Charles Schulz. Lemme tell you -- if you want a challenge, try reading Peanuts comics to a 2 year old. And yet she loves it and will ask for them time and again! Sometimes she's Linus, or Lucy, or even Schroeder. Interestingly, she's never chosen to be Charlie Brown. (Though she loves to talk about him as a character. For quite some time, she referred to him simply as "Mister Brown.")
- Plastic, the exuberant character from the charming chapter book Toys Go Out. (Spoiler alert! Plastic is, as we discover, a rubber ball.) BB being "Plastic" really came into its own when we were making plans to go camping and visit the beach and the boardwalk -- at one key point in the book, Plastic gets to go to the beach, and it goes around exclaiming, "BEACH! BEACH! BEACH!!!" BB did a frequent and vehement imitation throughout our little getaway.
- Recently, all this has morphed to combine both of the above. Yes, both at once. She'll frequently demand that she be addressed as "Ruby and Plastic." Woe to you if you forget!
- "The New Cate" made her appearance on Saturday evening after we'd spent the afternoon at the pool party for BJ's preschool friends and families. BB insists that she met a little girl named Cate at this party -- "Not the old Cate!" (one of her closest friends) "She's the new Cate!" None of us can figure out who this might have been. I'm tempted to say she imagined it, but BB has a whole story to tell about playing with "The New Cate" in the bounce house water slide, and she's vehement that it actually happened. "She's a very nice girl! And she played with me!" So strong an impression did this little girl make that BB has been pretending to be "The New Cate" almost constantly for the last two days. (And I confess that every time she says, "I"m the New Cate!" I have a disconcerting flashback to the ads for New Coke. Yes I am dating myself by admitting as much.)
I think that witnessing the quirks and intricacies of pretend play has easily been one of my favorite parts of parenting so far. It's just so much fun! Even if it is a little hard to keep track of at times. One of the most gratifying things to see about the way BJ and BB get along right now is how easily they adapt to each others' changing personas. On occasion, they have even chosen characters that complement one another, with BJ as Pido and BB as Trilby (from the Raggs television show).
Most of the time these days, when BJ is pretending, he's being Pajama Sam. BB just takes this in stride, and likewise he calls her by whatever name she prefers at the moment. They rarely need reminding to keep track, and they will even remind me of what persona the other one has taken on for the day (hour)! It's very sweet.
And for posterity, while we're on this topic, I have to record the following incident: file it under Most Embarassing Parenting Moment At Target To Date. (And I've had a few.)
It happened several weeks ago, after a few days in which the vintage Dick and Jane stories were quite popular and in heavy rotation for reading requests. As we were driving to run errands, BB announced that she was pretending to be Dick. Not Jane. Dick. When we arrived at Target, she commenced her usual round of the ever-popular Runaway Game. Which led to me saying, in ever sterner tones, as I hustled my way from aisle to aisle with a giggling BJ in tow: "Come back here! Right now! This is not the park, not a good place for running.... I mean it!" While my daughter kept running and laughing.
Then this devolved into my simply calling out her name repeatedly as I sped up and eventually abandoned the shopping cart.
How can a kid with legs that short run so damned fast? That's what I want to know. Finally I realized, with a flush, that she simply wasn't going to respond to her own name. After all, she'd told me as much in the car on the way over. She was pretending to be someone else. Which led to my hollering through gritted teeth, in the middle of Target, "Dick, you get back here! RIGHT NOW, DICK!"
Amazingly, nobody reported me as the crazy lady on aisle 8. I regained some slight measure of composure, grabbed both my giggling kids, located the cart, and completed my shopping in record time. The kids continued laughing throughout, so they couldn't have been too traumatized.
Much as I'm all for supporting my kids' creativity, much as I believe in breaking down gender stereotypes wherever they rear their ugly noggins, I hope I never have to call my own daughter "Dick" again. In public or in private.