“Nana, where are you?” Charlie, two-and-a-half, calls out from the living room.
“I’m in the kitchen.” I’m surprised he doesn’t see me because the kitchen and the living room have a semi-open design.
“Nana, where are you?” he repeats.
I assume he didn’t hear me. “I’m right here.” I turn around and realize he isn’t talking to me.
He’s holding a Little People person by a Little People house. It’s the Little People person who’s calling into the house, looking for his nana.
Charlie’s playacting, but he’s borrowing from real life. If he doesn’t see me immediately when he arrives in the morning, he yells, “Nana, where are you?”
Next, the Little People person, still peering into the Little People house, asks, “Where are you, puppy, where are you?”
I’m drawn into Charlie’s world of make-believe. I search through the bin of figures, looking for the Little People dog. I can’t find him. But I find the Little People sheep. “Here’s a sheep for your farm,” I say. Behind him is a Little People barn.
Charlie grabs the sheep, laughs, and says, “Puppy!” He’s willing to suspend reality in his theatrical world. I roll with him. He returns to his production company where he’s a scriptwriter, a director, and an actor playing all the parts. I sit on the floor, a few feet away from him, like an extra in a movie. He takes no notice of me.
He’s on to the next scene. “This is my bed,” he says, laying the Little People person, who represents him, on a lime-green bed in the second-story bedroom of the plastic house. He picks up two other Little People and brings them face to face. Imitating smooching sounds, he refers to them as Mom and Dad. How sweet.
Next, he says, “Bupba’s back,” signaling his grandpa has entered the scene. Then he picks up a small red toy—Spiderman has joined the show, saying, “Grab your ee-ee.” Not wanting to interrupt a director’s creative process, I don’t ask what motivates Spiderman’s concern for a blankie.
After a few minutes, I rise off the floor and return to the kitchen, leaving Charlie immersed in his playacting. His world of dialogue, actors, and shifting scenes continues for another twenty minutes.
I’m glad I saved some of the toys his dad and uncle played with when they were boys.
Before we had grandkids, my husband, when cleaning the basement, would ask, “Can we get rid of these old toys?”
“No,” I’d say.
“What are you saving them for?”
“What if we don’t have grandkids?” he’d ask.
“What if we do?”
And we do—four of them, ages nine, seven, four, and two-and-a-half. And they all play with the toys I saved. This morning two-and-a-half-year-old Charlie has morphed them into his world.
In about ten years, the dialogue with my husband will start anew. He will ask, Can we get rid of these old toys?
No, I will answer.
What are you saving them for?
What if we don’t have great-grandkids? he’ll ask.
What if we do?
Already, I imagine them on my living room floor, directing their own Little People productions.