Monday, August 24, 2009

Watch For Falling Inanimate Objects

My kids love assigning human characteristics to all things inanimate. Ella started the trend a few years ago with a little game I like to think of as "What Lives Where." The rules are simple, really. Whatever Ella finds out of place in her room - stuffed animals, hair bows, carpet fuzz - she throws out in the hallway and shouts, "This does not live here, Mommy!" Likewise, library books "live" at the library, chicken nuggets "live" at McDonald's, and Miss Kathy "lives" at the pool. Granted, Miss Kathy is a swimming teacher, not an inanimate object, but you get the picture.

Of course, we're way beyond "What Lives Where" now. These days my kids think of inanimate objects as a cross between the Brave Little Toaster and the Velveteen Rabbit: everything in our house has feelings and perhaps, with enough love, the potential to be real. Emily is particularly obsessed with her cat and her dog - a pair of stuffed animals who are rather opinionated creatures. I find myself walking on eggshells around my first twin, who is liable to scream out of the seeming blue: "My cat says you have to be quiet, Mommy!" or "You're making my dog mad!" or "My cat and my dog say we have to have ice cream RIGHT NOW!" Frankly, I'd like to see her cat and dog take a hike - especially now that Emily has seen Cinderella. Anyone who asks what her cat's name is gives me a dirty look when she replies "Lucifer."

Trying to play into my kids' imaginations has backfired on me, too, though. Emily's not particularly impressed when I tell her that her cat and her dog want her to eat all her broccoli or clean her room. "NO THEY DON'T, MOMMY! MY CAT AND MY DOG DON'T LIKE BROCCOLI!" Evie's not particularly impressed by my little game either. At the doctor's office, I told her to leave her very special - and somewhat emotional - "Blankie" in the car.

"I don't want Blankie to get sick, honey," I said, thinking of all the germs we were about to encounter.

"Mommy," Evie replied. "My Blankie don't have a mouth. It can't get sick."

There's only one thing stronger than a three-year old's passion for inanimate objects: the promise of treats.

"Evie, if you leave Blankie in the car and you behave at the doctor's office, then I will get you a treat when we're done."

"OK, Mommy. Can Blankie have one, too?"

I guess Blankie doesn't require a mouth for treats. Or maybe Evie imagines Blankie grows a mouth - a la Brave Little Toaster - when we all leave the room. Or perhaps my kids are just smarter than I realize ... and I'm jumping through a whole lot of imaginary hoops.