“Ooo … nenek. This is a snake,” said Faris, moving a stumpy, rolled-out play-doh, up and down in front of me.
“Ooo … it’s scary.” I feigned a shudder. “I am scared.”
“No … nenek. This is a friendly snake. Look there is another snake inside him.”
I saw a fat bulge at one end of the play-doh. Shouldn’t the bulge be at the centre? Hmm … thinking too much like an adult here.
“You call a snake that has eaten another snake friendly?” I retorted.
“No … nenek. This snake eats sandwich!”
“Huh!” I could have probed further. “Tuna or egg?” But I sensed a note of impatience in Faris’s voice and so merrily countered, “Wow! That’s a healthy snake.”
Apparently pleased with my answer, Faris went to his younger sister Asya to impress upon her the value of having a sandwich-eating snake.
Watching my grandson immersed himself in pretend play has taught me a lot of things about him. When he is in conversation, it is not with me that he is talking too. It is with whatever things or characters he has in mind. The scenes are his to direct and they chugged along delightfully powered only by his imagination.
Talking to him will bring that delightful pretend play to an end. It will stop the chatter that he is having. So I learn not to intrude. He will talk to me when he is ready.
Little Asya was doing her own artwork too. Much as she likes to copy her brother, she has her own ideas too. “Star. Nenek. Square.” “Ah, she is catching on … shapes.” And I lent a helping hand – rolling and pressing the doh into shapes that she wanted.
My two grandchildren play together but their play never did really converge. Faris already six would never draw Asya, four years younger than him, into his pretend world. That world belongs to him and his toys only.
They looked blissfully happy together, absorbed in their own parallel play. Sometimes a shriek would erupt when Faris would snatch the rolling pin and possesively said, Ït’s mine.” Little Asya, young as she is would wisely counter,”Share.”
I wondered. Would they in time learn that owning and sharing are important traits that have to be imbibed. Only time will tell.
Meanwhile back to the sandwich-eating snake, I could not resist but asked. “Why did the snake like to eat sandwich, Faris?” Looking incredulously peeved, he remarked, “Snakes like to eat sandwich, nenek.” Of course … silly me. In his make-believe world, snakes can eat anything.
Was I looking for a deeper psychological answer? I hope not.