Friday, February 3, 2012

The Magical Age of Three

In just the way my jaw would drop if Madonna or Jennifer Aniston walked into a room, I could see it in his face along with the wonder and excitement in his eyes.  Right there in front of him stood his idol.  Batman.  But, it wasn’t just any Batman…this Batman stood eye-to-eye with my three-year-old.  Without even looking up at me, my son grabbed my hand and squeezed.  “Mama, its Batman!  I want to play with him,” he said in a hushed voice.  “Go ahead, sweetheart.  I know he’d love to play with you.” I nudged my outgoing boy toward the little four-year-old.  My son wouldn’t move.  I’d never seen him like this!  This is the same boy that will walk up to anyone in the street and explain to them that he is Batman and he loves cop cars and ambulances and that he plans on having a peanut butter and jelly for dinner.  He still walks up to complete strangers (in my supervision, of course) and asks, “How was your holiday?”  after hearing my husband and I repeat it during the first week of the New Year. But here, in the front room of Charleston’s Children Museum was a 3’ tall superhero that my son was nervous to approach.  I knelt down to him and reminded him that it was just a little boy just like him who just happened to be dressed head to toe in a costume (why didn’t I think of that!). “Just go up to him and introduce yourself,” I suggested.  “No, you go, mom,” he said as he pushed me towards the little guy.  Of course, I’ll do anything for my baby so I walked right up to Batman and said, “Hi Batman, my son Luke loves Batman too and he he’d really like to play with you.” The little blondie looked up at me and looked over at Luke and smiled.  He handed him a ball, “I’m just trying out these golf balls.” For the next twenty minutes, the two boys ran around the room and tried each different golf ball obstacle course.  Luke ran up to me and told me he had to go potty so I grabbed Zealand’s hand and followed Luke to the potty.  When we returned – gasp! – Batman was nowhere to be found.  By the way, while they were playing together I found out Batman’s actual name was Ollie.  And he looked like an Ollie.  “Where’s Batman?!” Luke asked in a panic.   I replied, “I’m not sure honey.  Maybe he went home.” But that was not an acceptable answer to my preschooler.  We spent the next twenty minutes searching each room with no sign of this mysterious boy.  We were running late to meet friends at CiCi’s Pizza so I suggested maybe Batman went there.  The chances were good that Ollie was not at the Mt. Pleasant CiCi’s, but he could’ve been.  This seemed to work for Luke. So we headed out the front doors of the museum.  As we walked to our car, we could see about a block up, Batman climbing into his mom’s minivan.  They drove west on King.  And just like that, he disappeared into the city.  That was a month ago and we have yet to see little Ollie (or a little Batman) again.  Luke still asks about him and wonders why we can’t just go have a playdate with him.  Finally, I told him that when he starts wearing big boy undies to bed; he will get his very own Batman costume and rock everyone else's world!  

I had just read about this magical age of imagination and Luke is modeling it to a tee.  Whether he’s Batman (and he won’t leave the house without one of his three Batman shirts on), or pulling bad guys over in his cop car (our couch), or taking care of that sick patient in his operating room (our couch); he’s imagining all the possibilities of this world we live in. 

I’ve just started to take advantage of this.  At bedtime, after our books have been read, I tell him stories – big and small – about my life and the things I’ve seen.  From cities to the country, from college to a waterfall I swam by.  Even roller skating in a rink could sound interesting to a three-year-old who has yet to actually see one.   Did you take a cross-country drive with a good college friend?  How about that time you sang a solo in front of your entire town?  Utilize this age!  Utilize their minds.  You can paint mesas and mountains in your child’s mind.