A Creative Kid Turns Child's Play Into More Than Fun and Games

This morning, as I lay in bed - still in the drowsy state of dreaming - my daughter bounded into the room bubbling over with a description of Bunny's new house on the windowsill. My daughter, Diana, is 5. Bunny is a clay, pink lapel pin I found at the drugstore for her Easter basket.

It is the morning after Easter. Diana has not yet worn the pin on her lapel. But she pinned it on her teddy bear yesterday, and now, I hear, Bunny is no longer a pin but a small toy animal, housed in a makeshift apartment on Diana's windowsill.

I ease out of bed and wander behind Diana into her room to inspect Bunny's lodgings. Perched on the middle of the sill is the drawer from the plastic beauty kit my mother gave Diana this past Christmas. Diana explains that she lost the rollers, comb, and makeup and that the hair dryer is broken.

"But I don't care," she asserts, "the drawer makes a perfect bed."

Bunny is nestled in the drawer, atop Sleeping Barbie's nightgown - a pink polyester affair with lace trim. I assume Sleeping Barbie (a soft rendition of the Barbie doll) is lying naked somewhere in Diana's bin of toys. Next to the bed is Bunny's "refrigerator" - a white square Duplo piece fitted with a pink drawer from Patty's Pony Stable.

"I lost all the other Duplo pieces, Mommy," she said.

And on the other side of the bed is a turned-over miniature plastic bowl with a tiny plate resting on top: Bunny's breakfast table. Bunny's chair is a small square wooden die from a math toy; the other pieces are scattered throughout Diana's room.

I smile at my daughter, delighting in her imaginary play and suppressing my faint desire to chastise her for disassembling her toys. Each was given to her for a birthday or Christmas by a friend or relative. I warned her that she could easily lose the small pieces and needed to put each toy away after playing with it.

But I never had the patience to police her. Now her play is remarkably creative and expansive, as it should be.

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