Playing Pretend is Silly Mom

Children with umbrellaThere are so many things I didn’t know before this whole special needs journey started. Things I don’t want to know actually.

For example, I never knew the importance of imaginative play. Let me rephrase that. I knew the importance of imaginative play but I did not know that some people don’t have it. Or that when you don’t have it you really struggle to occupy your mind.  I’ve always had a huge imagination. I pretty much play everything out in my head before it actually happens. True story.

I have made so many excuses about Cooper’s lack of imaginative play. I have said that he would never know how to play with toy food because he doesn’t eat anything. He doesn’t like to eat so why would he pretend to eat an apple. Or, he doesn’t care about babies so why would he ever want to put a diaper on one. And the list goes on. Most of my imaginative play as a child involved conversations between toys or dolls or whatever. Well, Cooper doesn’t talk so how is he going to imitate this. I can make anything make sense in my head. It’s a talent I tell you.

There are times when I try to encourage imaginative play and Cooper will look at me like I am crazy. It’s like he’s saying, ‘what is the point of feeding that teddy bear a sandwich mom?” I so wish he could talk. I truly believe that he would be hilarious.

The hardest part about Cooper’s lack of imaginative play is that very few activities interest him or keep his attention. And that brings on A LOT OF WHINING.  Where Sawyer will get lost in an activity Cooper does not. This morning Sawyer sat on the bathroom counter with me and pretended to put makeup his face. And tried on headbands and bracelets and necklaces. It is so stinking cute that my heart just melts. We played like this for 30 minutes.

Cooper doesn’t know how to play with toys. We have 5 million toys and most of the time he just stares at them. Or throws them. Or destroys them.  Ok, that’s a little dramatic. He knows what to do with them he just doesn’t have the desire to play with them. Besides trains and books, the only activity that will hold his attention is technology or playing physical. We do a lot of wrestling, chasing and tickling at our house. I am a human jungle gym. And I am not complaining. I welcome these moments.

I really notice Cooper’s lack of imagination in the bathtub and outside. His play is always rammy and messy. (And yes, he is a seeker.) I have to remind myself that he is who he is and all I can do is encourage imaginative play. I can’t force it.

If you are anything like me, the technology guilt gets to you. I don’t know any parent that wants to park their kid in front of the TV. So what do you do when it is pure torture to get them to play. Well, you fight it for a while and then you realize what’s the point. If technology makes them happy you have to be more flexible. We have introduced learning games on the LeapPad and IPhone. That has helped ease my conscious a little bit.

Another thing that has really helped is playing music in his room. We have a kid CD on auto play in his room. The music seems to focus him.

So, all we can do is keep trying to encourage more play. And laugh along the way.

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5 thoughts on “Playing Pretend is Silly Mom

  1. So Mom…. This forces you to stretch your imagination to find activities Cooper will enjoy. What a weird concept to wrap my brain around. But I understand Cooper somewhat. I never played with dolls much. Never had a active imagination. I was a literal kid. I preferred physical games. So give him time. This little dude will find his niche. I believe.

  2. Mason (thanks to therapy)is at the very beginning stages of pretend play. He will pretend to give his toys (that he doesn’t really play with he just lines them up and looks at them) a sip of his drink, and he will put things to his ear pretending it’s a phone. I understand what you are writing though- mason does not have the ability to use his imagination. I get very sad when I see kids actually making up games together.

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