Bridget has never played. She was always content to sit and watch. If prompted she would participate, however she never initiated play. Over the past six-months or so we noticed that she was becoming more animated, especially at school. Bridget began playing with her classmates in the “kitchen” or at the sand table. She would be heard telling them to “come on” and to “follow me”. Suddenly she was asking to be on their team, saying I play you. Her communication book was filled with details. Telling us that she played with “J” or was in the kitchen with “T” playing dolls.
The experience was never recreated at home.
Which didn’t surprise me. She doesn’t pull her hair at school, only at home. She will put her shoes on at school, not for me. Like all children, Bridget is a different person when she is not under my watch. She behaves differently for me than for her dad, grandparent or teacher. I wasn’t concerned when the play behavior was not being mimicked at home. Though I wish I could see it to believe it, I was overjoyed that having Bridget in an inclusive classroom was paying dividends. She is making friends, she is playing and she is learning. While she is not “typical”, she is not known as the “special” child. She is knows as “my friend, Bridget”.
Then it happened. She started asking to “play Barbies”. Mostly she just holds the Barbie (a princess one, of course). Yet Bridget was initiating the play, in fact she was asking to play. This is huge. She is doing more than just watching her IPa; she is beginning to carry over the Princess Sophia stories and reenact them. In front of a mirror she started pretending she was Amber stuck in her costume. Turning round and round saying, where’s the zipper?
This weekend out from her sister’s room Bridget proclaimed: I butterfly costume! I turned away from the stove to see:
On a rainy Sunday, Bridget became her sister’s living doll. Her sister had secretly retrieved the dress-up clothes I had put away and brought them down. Bridget curtsied around the kitchen, showing off her princess look. She played, for almost an hour. It was so wonderful to see her growth. After six years of waiting, my girls played together.
Of course all good things come with a price. The next morning Bridget had an absolute meltdown. Her poor father couldn’t figure out why. I looked at her tears and said what’s wrong? Her response:
“I WANT PRINCESS DRESS”
David had dressed her in everyday clothes to go to her grandmother’s house and not in a princess dress. (GASP!)
Milestones accomplished over one weekend:
Imaginative play CHECK
Initiate play CHECK
Show your father what life will be when he lives with teenage girls CHECK