My stiff back and creaky joints take me up and down from the floor as I play with Stargirl. I don’t remember playing like this with her mother, and if I did during those busy years I am sure I tried to direct the pretend. I am older and wiser, now, so I know that I must do more listening than talking. The four year old is the boss of the story.
At first the doll-house brother is taking good care of the pink-clad cloth baby, carrying her everywhere. Then the grandma from the doll house enters the scene and tries to take care, but that baby is now walking everywhere, and is joined by others (some lego children have joined the game, too) and a gang of puppies, and the cat, the penguin and even the baby monkey (a new treasure from the KinderEgg that the real Grandpa bought Stargirl that morning)- they all keep setting each other up to mischief. Sometimes they don’t want to get dressed, don’t want to come for breakfast Grandma doll sets out. They are always going crazy on the Duplo playground we set up and needing to see the Grandpa doctor; sit on the exam table and get some ice and a band-aid of tape. After their misadventures they refuse to nap and insist on climbing the mountain where the big elephant lives. Or taking the helicopter. Grandma doll tries to lure them back from the mountain with the offer of sweet fartones to eat, but no go- they are bold and stubborn babies, like my own Stargirl.
Another day we are playing on the small balcony, washing the smooth pebbles we found at the beach. Of course some characters enter and a story begins. There is baby alligator, who chews rocks, “gnau, gnau, gnau.” Baby lion is a goofball who sits on the bucket’s edge to wash his tail in the water. Held there by Stargirl, baby lion farts with gusto and zero remorse. We make a rocky nest for the animal babies and they like it but don’t stay long. They swim in the sea but encounter sea plants that make you itchy, just like Stargirl was troubled by at our real beach the other day. The animal friends make it across the water to another shore, but baby alligator has stayed behind. Grandma is concerned for the feelings of baby alligator all alone but says nothing. Then Stargirl senses the trouble and makes Ankylosaurus go back to check on baby alligator. Sure enough, baby alligator has changed his mind and will swim to join the other animals.
The real Grandma is sitting on a squat stool but Stargirl is on the floor, sitting in this quite real puddle from washing the rocks. Her little underwear with the unicorns on it have become quite soaked. No pase nada, it doesn’t matter. The play is the thing.

Addenda #1
Grandma has flown back home and must again make do with video calls. Mommy holds the phone at Stargirl’s bidding and Stargirl directs her back over to the floor by the dollhouse and chatters and gestures and suddenly, Mommy and Grandma realize the game is back on! It is hard to understand Stargirl’s animated words and Grandma can’t build scenes or move characters over the phone, but Stargirl is game to try. After awhile, Grandma cheerily interjects, “I love this game, I hope you can play it with one of your friends soon!” Stargirl goes silent, looks stricken, shakes her head “no.” Ahhh, Grandma realizes, this is OUR GAME. And it must feel like a good book that you had to put down; Stargirl is just dying to pick it up to work out what will happen next.

Addenda #2
Mommy is talking to Grandma and tells a story. Last night the Daddy was tidying. Picking up toys from the rug so he could vacuum. A “NO” rings out. Stargirl’s scene; the furniture, motorcycle, doggies, babies, lego playground- nothing can be moved, it is her game with Grandma. “When,” Daddy asks bemusedly, “when can we pick it up?”
“When Grandma DIES,” Stargirl firmly states.

I am relishing a Four-year old’s will, having time to grandparent, the gift of floor-time.

A tame moment in the play.

2 thoughts on “Floor-Time

  1. This is such a delightful slice. I love how you captured the free flow and whimsy of your granddaughter’s play with you. I also can appreciate that you now know to allow her to be the boss of the show. Thanks for sharing the moment and allowing us to play along vicariously.


  2. Oh, I love the ending of this piece! Of course, it is your game–together. Stargirl’s response to her father’s question is the BEST–I laughed out loud. So glad you could capture this slice. Stargirl will treasure it one day.


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