When Briton was two-ish, I had a panicky first-time-mom moment that he had no imagination. He spent hours, hours playing trains, but really, nothing else. He didn't dress up, he didn't pretend to cook, he didn't have imaginary friends or favorite stuffed animals, he didn't draw crazy pictures. he just played trains. For me, this was horrible. As a child, ok, also as an adult, I had a lot of imagination. Possibly too much imagination. The idea that a child of mine could be lacking in the pretending department seemed awful. I used to coax him with costumes and ever brighter markers and crayons, dancing around our teeny tiny apartment, trying to get him to join in. And he would play with trains or want to go watch trains, or ask to go ride on the trains. (yes, I know trains are imaginary play, what can I say, it was one of those this-is-my-first-child-I'm-obsessed kind of things. )
Eventually, of course, it did kick in. We gained, over the space of about a week, not only an imaginary friend but an entire family, including pets. Millie the stuffed cat became our constant companion and we spent a lot of time wearing firemen/policeman costumes. But he never really liked to draw. I can see now that a big part of that was wanting it to look the way it did in his head. He wasn't satisfied with scribbles, he wanted detail. Go figure. Daddy's an architect, Briton will probably end up as an engineer. It all makes sense now. But back then, I worried still, that he didn't sit and color the way a lot of his friends did.
As it turns out, he was just helping me save up for the reams of paper I would need to buy for his sisters art projects.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have hit the five-year-old coloring phase.
The girl colors and colors and colors. We've used up more paper this month than in previous years. Coloring books last a week, sometimes days. The paper is piling up around here. Rainbows, family portraits, fish, pets and words. Words, words, words. Our afternoons are a constant buzz of "how do you spell...." and then "Mama! I have a surprise for you!"
I love it. As a friend told me yesterday, she is just so very five. It reminds me why I loved teaching kindergarten so much. Everything is new and interesting and fascinating and wonderful. That sudden realization that letters make words and words make sentences and sentences convey thoughts. The leap from simple stick figures to details and backgrounds and swirls around the edge of your drawings to make frames.
At some point I'm going to have to go through the drawings and decide what to keep and what to recycle as the pile grows bigger by the day. But for now I'm just enjoying watching her enjoying drawing. And drawing. And drawing.