Last Wednesday, Noah was Superman.
He was wearing a shirt with the logo and shorts (they’re actually pajama shorts, but whatever) that say “Superman” on a small tag on the waistband. We “flew” down the stairs, and he “flew” into the sitter’s house.
The day before, he was Mickey Mouse.
He wore a cute, fuzzy black jacket with black Mickey ears, and — thanks to a quick-thinking Linda, our sitter — a shoelace tail hooked to a back belt loop. Voila! In his mind, he was Mickey.
His imagination and ability to pretend is bringing him lots of joy right now. He makes toys talk to each other, he holds conversations with toys or stuffed animals, and he can zoom a spaceship or motorcycle at lightning speed.
In the mornings, after kissing his cheeks, I lay him down on his changing table, and — no matter how sleepy and warm and snuggly he is — he lifts one leg up and points his toes at me. I am required to kiss the toes and the foot and say, “Good morning, Toes!”
And the toes wiggle and respond in a contrived, high-pitched voice: “Good morning, Mommy!”
And then I must do the same to the other foot and toes.
But this high-level world of pretend has a downside, too.
During our recent vacation to Atlantic City, we went to the Rainforest Café on the boardwalk. Sam was mega-excited and became almost unbearably so when we were seated in the monkey section.
Noah? Big tears rolled down his face. He screamed. His little body shook. He kept pointing to the exit, saying, “I go dat way! I go DAT WAY!”
With apologies to our waitress, we left before she could get our drink order.
A week or so later, we headed to Dutch Wonderland for a laid-back day of rides and games. As we pulled up to the front of the amusement park, Sam spotted Duke, the purple dragon-y thing that’s the mascot.
“Look, Noah!” she said. “It’s a dinosaur! Maybe he’ll roar at us!”
Noah’s two favorite fingers darted into his mouth, and he sank down as far as he could in his car seat. “I don’t wanna see a dinosaur,” he mumbled.
Sam’s voice changed to its helpful-and-understanding-big-sister tone.
“Oh, don’t worry, baby,” she said. “Dinosaurs aren’t alive anymore. They’re all extinct now, which means they’re all dead. And when they died, they fell over, and then their skin and their muscles melted off of their bodies until just the bones were left. And then the bones got — ”
“SAM!” I said. “Maybe telling your little brother about flesh melting off of bones isn’t the best way to make him not feel scared.”
I pointed out that Duke was purple, just like Barney. Noah seemed to like that. He smiled, at least, and didn’t freak out when we looked at the stuffed Dukes in the gift shop.
This stage is a lot of fun — and, as I’d forgotten, sometimes a crap-shoot.