Ozzie and Dash both love to play pretend. They pretend to fix things with their toy tools, they pretend to build me a “big, fancy [car/house/rocket ship/whatever].” They dress up in superhero capes or monster masks and run around the house pretending to be good guys or bad guys, the identity of which is really hard to tell from the outside since both just mean they’re jumping around and yelling, “I got you!” The games of pretend are a constant, and switching between them happens frequently enough that even when I’m not sure of the game, I just roll with it until I know what they’re doing.
Recently, one of their favorite pretend games is cooking. I let them help me stir things and pour ingredients into bowls when I’m actually cooking. Sometimes when I’m feeling especially patient, I even let them scoop batter into cupcake pans or onto a cookie sheet. But it’s less common because it often leads to Ozzie grabbing a fistful of goo and going to town spreading it on every surface within his reach. This actual “cooking” has gotten them wildly interested in play cooking. They have adorable little pans and utensils from IKEA, and a few random pieces of play food, all of which get a ton of use.
“Oh, yum! Crunch, crunch, crunch!”
“And here’s some juice to wash it down.”
“Oh thanks. Gulp, gulp, ahhhhh! Refreshing!”
Ozzie, at not quite a year and a half old, is still pre-verbal (I know, right? He’s such a lazy jerk. He could probably talk if he’d just make a real effort!). This means he just approaches me and says, “Ahhh!” while making an open mouthed example of what he wants me to do. He’s still only got about half of his baby teeth in yet, which means that his adorable face is twice as irresistible. When he walks up and says, “ahhh,” it’s just about impossible not to play along. Then he usually touches my lips with his hands or a toy spoon or fake corn and says, “Na, na, na!” Which is Ozzie for “Nom, nom, nom!” He’ll do this a few times, then wander off to pick up a different toy and repeat the process.
I clean my house. My husband cleans our house. But despite our best efforts, there are still times that I find a hunk of old bagel wedged under the couch, or half chewed mouthful of chicken sitting at the bottom of the toy box, dried and barely recognizable. When I stumble upon these little hunks of food, I usually just think of how gross kids can be, and wish I didn’t have to find old dried out bits of last week’s lunch hiding in all the dark corners.
Unfortunately now I can say that by far, I would rather be the one to find these little gems, rather than have one of the kids discover it and sucker me into putting it into my mouth.