May 27, 2011

Over the past few weeks, the way that Charlotte plays has drastically changed.  I keep telling people this, trying to put my finger on HOW it changed and WHAT is different, but all I can come up with is that it feels like one night I put her to bed as one kid and she woke up as a completely different one.

One that demands to go gnome-hunting.  A LOT.

Personally, I would have much rather she picked something like fairy-hunting when she reached into her imagination and pulled out something 100% bona-fide RANDOM-ASS-AWESOME, but whatever.

So she comes to me demanding GNOME! and have you ever tried to convince a toddler with her heart set on gnomes to chase fairies instead?  I’m not in the CIA or anything, but I imagine that it must feel very similar to negotiating with terrorists.  The way she reacts to the suggestion of fairies, like HOW DARE YOU TAINT MY GNOME FANTASY WITH YOUR PATHETIC WINGED CREATURES, it’s just not even worth the battle.

Okay, kiddo.  Let’s hunt for gnomes.

And that is exactly what we do.  We hunt all over the yard until we find a place where imaginary non-fairy gnomes might reside.  It is entirely up to her.  Or at least 90% up to her; I don’t accept fresh snake holes as viable options.  She marches around pointing to various places she would like me to take a peek at for her.

If the place is just right – a bit shady, not too infested with creepy-crawlies, and prime for the make-believe – then that is the place we pick.  It’s almost always the same place.  I feel like I should make a sign: “beside this rotten old log there is a gnome village, NO, I KNOW YOU CAN’T SEE IT, BUT YOU HAVE TO TRUST ME ON THIS, YOU UNBELIEVERS.  Don’t make me threaten a rapture to get your attention.”

She asks me to sing her songs about the gnomes and because I know exactly two songs about gnomes and I am approximately 723% incapable of remembering those tunes on command, I just make things up to the tune of London Bridge Is Falling Down.  Then we tell each other stories about the gnomes and mine are always long and involve big friendly dragonflies and hers are always short and go GNOME! HUNG-EE! (hungry) ME! FOOD! FOG! (frog) CHUMP! (jump) and I have no idea what she’s talking about.

It’s a tough job, being a gnome-hunter, answering to the non-sensical whims of a toddler, but there’s something just a bit magical about the whole game.  I might spend forty minutes spinning yarns about ugly lawn ornaments, but watching her eyes light up, watching the wheels of her imagination spin, I have to admit: this is a little bit perfect, isn’t it?

At least…it’s perfect until we’re on round eight for the day.

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  1. By on May 27, 2011

    A girl after my own heart… I loved gnomes. If you don’t already, you’ve got to lie down on the ground with her and press your ears to the ground to see if you can hear them. Also, I have no idea if shes old enough to be doing this with you or not… but building little gnome houses for them to live in in those perfect places in the shadows is quite fun :). They simply must be made out of all the bits and pieces of things you find on the forest ground… sticks, moss, bark etc. I so look forward to finding gnomes with my (future) babies.

  2. By on May 27, 2011

    You should totally sneak out one night and hide a garden gnome there so you can find it the next day.

  3. By Sarah Christensen on May 27, 2011

    Jessica - THAT IS BRILLIANT!  She’ll love that!

    Mira - Right now, she mounds dirt together and pokes holes (for seeds lol) and then says that the hole is the door for the gnomes.  I try building more elaborate houses but she just does the dirt mounds.  I haven’t tried putting my ear to the ground, though, I think she’ll like that too.  Lol, especially if I do it when the sprinklers are running and she can hear the water in the pipes lol.

  4. By Sarah on May 27, 2011

    you should get her one of those little troll things with the crazy hair!

  5. By Alicia S. on May 27, 2011

    Matthew and I are avid hunters around here. I totally get you on this one. There are two things I love most about hunting for imaginary creatures with my son. The glimpse you get into their imaginations and the sense of being a real team—just the two of you, like some badass duo. Especially when you spend the week hunting for things like dragons and dinosaurs.

  6. By Kimberly o'Rosky on May 27, 2011

    I’m impressed that you know songs about gnomes! Makes me think of the book Gnomes by Will Huygen. I loved looking through that as a kid!!!

  7. By on May 28, 2011

    OR maybe she, with the more sensitive gnome-detecting skills given only to those under 10, really is finding gnomes, and they’re all having a laugh at you trying to find them! ;p

  8. By Danielle on May 28, 2011

    I love this! Such a fun (and patient) mama she has! I can’t wait until my girl starts imaginative play. Charlotte cracks me up!

  9. By Sarah on May 28, 2011

    My little girl does the same thing- except its american gladiators: fairy vs gnome.

  10. By Melissa S. on May 30, 2011

    Hahaha…just take her to my parents; dad has gnomes all over the yard!

  11. By Amber on May 31, 2011

    Haha - that is adorable! I love the suggestion of hiding a gnome in there one night.  Nate likes to hunt for imaginary animals amongst the pillows on our bed. 90% of the time there’s a giraffe in there. Like you, I feel it’s great fun until the tenth time that day.  He also plays imaginary daddy, where he starts speaking (no YELLING) to his daddy about an hour before he comes home from work. “DADDY? BLOCKS! DADDY! DADDY! PLAY TOOOOO! “





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