“What are you doing?” I asked my two and a half year old
“Cooking coffee,” he replied, busily putting a plastic cup
in the play microwave as we sat in the play restaurant at our local children’s
museum. After cooking it for two
seconds, he brought it over where I was seated.
Without waiting to see what I did with his creation, he went
back to the play kitchen and brought over a plate piled high with plastic
vegetables. “Eat salad,” he
commanded. I dutifully picked up my plastic
fork and made loud yummy noises. He
looked pleased as he brought over two more plates piled high with meat, a loaf of
bread, random slices of pizza and cake. Before long, I was surrounded by eight piles of play food and drinks.
“I’m full,” I said at last, rubbing my tummy. He looked disappointed, holding the ninth pile
of food in his hands.
“Can you clean up and
wash the dishes?” I suggested. He
brightened and happily carted away plates of food back to the play
kitchen. He pretended to turn on the
water, and wash the dishes.
Pretend play is an important milestone for children. Copying adult behaviors begins early in
infancy. When your four month old smiles at you when you smile at her, she is
copying you. This continues as your
child learns to walk, talk, and do important daily activities such as brushing
teeth, getting dressed and learning to use the potty. Toddlers love to pretend to be adults as they
imitate us by cooking, vacuuming, sweeping the floor and doing laundry.
If only they would keep doing these tasks for fun as they
Trying to redirect my son who was still washing dishes, I
said to him, “Why don’t you come over here and cook something else?”
He stayed focused on the bowl he was vigorously scrubbing,
and without turning around, he replied, “Sorry, mommy, I’m busy.”
Oops, maybe copying me isn’t always the best thing!