The Costume Trunk, Courtney and her friends discover the magical world of Paddywhack Lane where all they need is their imagination to have fun. As a member of From Left to Write book club, I received a copy of this book for review. All opinions are my own. You can read other members' posts inspired by The Costume Trunk by Bob Fuller on book club day, July 28 at From Left to Write.
After I read The Costume Trunk, I began to think about pretend play and how it differs in my children's lives from my own childhood. Growing up in those early days after my family immigrated to the US we didn't have a lot of toys. So when we engaged in pretend play, my sisters and I had to use whatever we had. Sometimes we would take library books, open them up, and stand them end to end and pretend they were our princess castles. Many nights at bedtime we would play "window" with our pillows where one person lived across the street from the other. One person would be the outgoing neighbor who would say hello while the other person would be shy and shut the window quickly after hearing the greeting. We played this countless times over a two year period, although now I can't figure out why it was so fun at the time.
Now that I'm a mom with far greater financial resources than my parents had while I was a child (it also didn't hurt that Stewart worked for a toy company for the first two years of R's life), I want to be able to give my children the toys with which they can unleash their imaginations. But these boys will not cooperate. They have two different doctor's sets. They have capes for superheroes ranging from Superman to Super Why. They have a stick horse that always reminds me of the scene from The Godfather because of the disembodied head. But the only times these toys get played with are when other children come to play. Why? Because whenever my boys "pretend," they are superheroes (no capes required) that are killing space aliens. We have no guns other than water guns in our house so they just go around shooting things with their fingers. How did this happen? They've never watched a single episode of Ben 10 or Super Hero Squad or any program that isn't on PBS or Nick Jr., yet they know Iron Man, Hulk, Transformers, and other heroes that I don't even know.
So for me, I think the answer to the question, "nature v. nurture?" is definitely nature. For some reason they'd rather shoot aliens with their fingers than put on a stethoscope and examine stuffed animal patients. Sometimes they will play with their stuffed animals when we do puppet show, but it is always the same, one animal is falling and another has to "rescue" it. So I think they must have been born with the savior complex and our plan to send them to a service academy for college is right on track. Perhaps having a great-grandfather who served in WWII, a grandfather who served in Vietnam, and a West Point graduate father who served in Kosovo and Iraq is a legacy that is part and parcel of their genetic makeup.
Now with a new baby daughter I have a way of seeing if this superhero nature is innate to all the Random Mommy children. Even before she was born Baby E already had a play tea party set and an American Girl doll. Hopefully she won't leave me in the dust while she goes and shoots the aliens with her brothers.