"I just want to play store."

Last week the preschoolers played "Have you got the bags!?" This game was about reminding parents to take the reusable bags into the grocery store. We played grocery store with plastic veggies, a toy cash register, and a bunch of fabric shopping bags.

Afterwards, I had to pack up the plastic vegetables, little shopping baskets, and cloth bags in the big Rubbermaid tub. It was sad. My coworker stood looking wistfully at the most realistic of the toy carrots. "After a long day," she said,"I tell my husband I just want to play store for awhile." It's their code for needing some relaxing imagination refueling time.

No pressure. No goals and objectives. No metrics. I just want to cut and paste sometimes, with round-tip safety scissors and the white paste from the big jar. Paint samples from Glidden, bits of rickrack, a bit of fuzz. It was enough to get the paste on the scrap of fabric or paper, turn it over, and stick it down on the faded construction paper.Any aesthetic decisions were only to please myself. Any story I told to adults asking, "What did you make, Honey?," could be short, cryptic, and changed for the next time. "It's a big brown bear." "It's a slippery slide." "It's my baby brother." But you don't have a baby brother, Honey! Doesn't matter. "It's my dad who never ever takes a bath..." Ahhh. The grown-ups looked at each other knowingly.

So this week, I'm bringing back the plastic veggies. After we read Growing Vegetable Soup, by Lois Ehlert, we will harvest vegetables from the pretend garden, "wash" them in plastic colanders, chop them on cutting boards, and stir them in big stew pots. Then we will do potato and pepper printmaking on kid-size paper chef hats to take home. I don't know about the kids, but it feels therapeutic to me.

Good vegetables, good soup, good pretending, good Earth.

Fresh plastic veggies from and imaginary garden are bound to taste better than plastic veggies from the "gorphries store."*

* Pronunciation from my real baby brother.

© 2013-2015 Nancy L. Ruder

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