Watching Her Imagination Run Wild

One of the cool things about Toddler L’s current age (2.5 years old) is her imagination. Over the last few months, there’s been a huge change in how she sees the world, how she interacts with it and what she does as a result of that. Seeing her interpret and copy the things around her is pretty incredible, albeit a little scary when she mimics my slip ups. Not that I’ve ever dropped the ‘F bomb’ or called another driver a ‘twat’ around her…shhhh…

We’ve had stuff like crawling, walking and talking which are huge milestones in their own right. But there’s something about her developing imagination which stands out to me that bit more. Using her muscles to stand up is incredible, but the majority of mammals do that too – is it *that* special. However, it’s such a human trait to use the mind to think intelligently, expressively and imaginatively. I don’t ever recall seeing a horse pretend to cook porridge or a badger make his toy cars line up at traffic lights.

This is the kind of thing that Toddler L is doing now though. It’s pretty incredible to watch her act out everyday scenarios with her DUPLO, Barbies, farm animals or cars. Although some of these might be pretty mundane – such as making them go to the shops – she’s taking the things from everyday life and recreating them to better her understanding. That is pretty phenomenal.

Whereas a lot of her imagination to date has been based around what she sees of the world, there’s been a change recently. She’s now coming up with more abstract scenarios which aren’t experienced on a daily basis. This is fab because it’s starting to demonstrate her potential brain power, but it can also be very confusing and a little scary for me. It took me a while to realise that the “big smiley face” in her room was the light coming in through her blackout blind and not a particularly cheerful intruder.

It’s been a busy – and quite tragic – morning in Toddler Town. From what I’ve understood: * The town was invaded by Safari animals (and a sheep) who ate Peppa and George Pig * There was a plane crash in which 3 people (and the local Car Wash) perished. * A train in a nearby town derailed – luckily there were no casualties apart from some trees. * The High Street was closed off by traffic cones – and an oversized Daddy Pig. This caused a crippling traffic jam. * A man in a digger came to the rescue by bringing emergency water for Peppa and George – he told the giraffe that he was very naughty for eating Peppa. * There was a miraculous turnaround as the Car Wash opened minutes after the tragic plane crash. * The giraffe once again caused trouble by attacking the car transporter. He fell off though, bumped his head and was given medicine. * Just as the town was getting back to some kind of normality, a giant toddler entered the fray to cause more carnage by stamping and kicking everything.

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A quick Google suggests that learning through imaginative play is crucial for a kid’s development. Not only is it fun, but it allows them to explore concepts such as social norms, decision making, emotions, communication skills and creativity, all whilst making sense of the complicated world around them. In a world of on-demand TV, iPads and other technological distraction, it’s easy to forget what fun kids can have with a big box, sofa cushions or a bit of fancy dress.

As such, I should do more to encourage Toddler L’s imagination. I’ll be honest though. When I’m comfortably sat on the settee, I can’t really be arsed to get up and chase her around the living room as I roar like a dinosaur. Particularly when she pulls at my arm repeating “tend”, which is her abbreviated word for “pretend”. However, I need to remember that it’s about her, not me.

As a way of capturing her early imaginative games, I thought I’d list a few of the normal, everyday ones and the bit weirder ones that she / we play:


The imagination things I would deem ‘normal’, every day stuff include:

Playing Doctor – Using a medical carrycase we bought her, Toddler L loves pretending she’s a doctor. I swear that “me not feeling well” or “daddy not feeling well” is uttered multiple times per day and signals her desire to check ears, mouth and heartbeat with her various medical items.

Walking The Dog – Toddler L loves to walk her real sausage dog, but she also loves to walk her not so real dogs (and lobster). She has three different pull along toys and often takes them for walks around the living room. What’s more, she regularly stops so that “doggy av a poo”, which she imaginatively picks up and puts in the bin.

She may have got the wrong idea when I said should we take the sausage dog out for a walk.

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Cooking Food – Whether it’s using the plastic produce in her kitchen or creating ‘edible’ grub with Play-Doh, Toddler L ‘cooks’ daily in our house. Sure, it may not ever make it to the dining table, but she enjoys ‘making’ things like soup, porridge, Cheerios and pasta. Who am I to curtail this culinary passion?

Motorbike / Horse Ride – Just like I remember as a kid, Toddler L enjoys imaginative motorbike and horse rides by sitting on my knee. Not only does she like being thrown around, but she also takes great pleasure in the preparation, such as putting on an invisible helmet and gloves.

Bedtime – A recent reenactment has seen Toddler L put her cuddly toys to bed. Just like we do with her, this involves tucking them up, reading them a story, giving them a kiss and turning out the lights. So cute.

Pretending to put her cuddly toys to bed and reading them a bedtime story. So cute it hurts! 🙂

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Then we move on to the imagination things which are a bit weird and show her growing imagination:

Monster Chase – She’ll find it hilarious to pretend that I’m a monster and get me to chase her around the living room. She’ll run away from me screaming, go around the table, then sit on an armchair which is the monster’s lair. Then it gets a bit odd. She gets off the chair and makes me sit down, then asks me what I want to eat for breakfast, which she then cooks up. If a monster chased me, I wouldn’t be making it breakfast – I’d be getting the hell out of there. It’s a bit like she has Stockholm Syndrome and has bonded with her captor.

Crocodile-Infested Waters – She’ll make me put my legs up onto the footstool to create a bridge, then climb up and walk across – all normal so far. But then she’ll add crocodiles – or “crac-o-dal” as she pronounces it – into the mix, meaning that there’s danger of being eaten if she falls. As far as I remember, this has never happened to her in real life and she’s not yet been introduced to Steve Irwin on TV, so this is something she’s made up.

Piece Of Rubbish – This last one is probably my favourite weird thing. It’s only happened once so far, but the other day she told me that she was a piece of rubbish and needed putting into the bin. Once I’d pretended to dispose of her, she then laid down on the floor and told me to drag her to a bin truck so I could once again dispose of her. Not only did this feel a bit sinister like I was trying to get rid of a toddler’s body, but I’d like to think that she has higher career aspirations than being trash.

So those are some of the imaginative games that Toddler L is playing at the moment. Do any of those sound familiar? What normal / weird role play games do your kids play? Let me know below!

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