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Tell me a story, daddy!

Bethany has started asking me to tell her stories!

For a while now she's been very into vehicles like cars, trains and buses. Her favourite toys have been cars, her favourite videos to watch involve cars or trains or buses, and so on. But one thing about the way she plays with toys has confused us for a while: she has some toy cars where you can open and close the doors, and others where she can't. She'll often play with these others and pull at the doors, saying things like "Baba green car yeah?", i.e. "Bethany green car please?" She's asking for something to happen with the car, and we've not been quite sure what. Sometimes she seems mollified if we say "I'm sorry, darling, the doors don't open on that car. It's just a toy car." Sometimes we've told her "You can pretend to get into the green car if you want," not particularly expecting her to understand.

But yesterday morning, she was doing this, and I said something like "Shall we pretend that Bethany and Daddy are going in the green car?" She look at me seriously and said "Yeah."

So I started making up something along these lines: "One day Bethany and Daddy went outside, and found that instead of our car, there was the green car on the drive! And so Bethany and Daddy climbed into the car, and started it, and it went brrm! So they drove the car up the slope, and found Mummy and Tango at the top of the slope..."

This seems to be precisely what she wanted, and went on for some time. She now asks for this kind of story - "Baba green car Dada green car yeah?" She enjoys driving the car around matching my narration ("then the car went Bounce, up into the air! Then Bethany drove the car some more, and it went Spin! ...") Most intriguingly, there are times when she gets rather upset, and as far as I can tell, it's because the story I'm telling doesn't match how she wants it.

I didn't really know to what extent she had a concept of fiction, of narrative and story. She has some books telling stories of Peter Rabbit or the birth of Jesus or suchlike, but I don't think she really understands that successive pages are a sequence of successive events; I think she just sees them as a number of pictures. And in fact there are some occasions when she points at a toy in a picture and asks to play with it, and we have to say "I'm sorry, darling, that's just a picture" or similar.

But these stories about Bethany getting in the green car (or the blue car, or the purple car) she seems very happy with, despite not thinking they're real in any sense. It's the first sign of pretend, make-believe, that I've seen from her, and it's really fun and exciting.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 22nd, 2012 02:29 pm (UTC)

First sign of narrative, maybe, but not quite the first sign of make-believe. She's been feeding imaginary food to dolls and to us for probably a couple of months.
Jun. 22nd, 2012 02:31 pm (UTC)
Oh, hmm. I guess you're right. I was thinking that that was just imitation, the way that she's happy with the actions to Grand Old Duke Of York either us lifting her up or her lifting a teddy up. But yes, you're right, she's been doing the imaginary feeding thing. Perhaps I could have taken that as a hint that telling her stories might go down well a little earlier.
Jun. 22nd, 2012 02:52 pm (UTC)
Oh, that's lovely.

books telling stories of Peter Rabbit or the birth of Jesus or suchlike

That made me laugh out loud -- I know exactly what you mean, but I was amused to consider what class of stories were represented by Jesus and Peter Rabbit :)
Jun. 22nd, 2012 03:49 pm (UTC)
That's so adorable! And exciting. Yay stories and pretending!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )