Over the last seven years the line between fantasy and reality has mostly been seriously blurred in our home as Ruby engaged with her love of imaginative play.
There were the hours of debriefing; rerunning situations she had just been present in.
There were her good friends Henna, Hesa and Heka, imaginary all of them, who she adventured with, argued with and generally babbled along with and who eventually faded away during the year she was five. She still remembers them fondly but they certainly no longer live with us.
And then there are the selection of characters that at any moment she may be immersed in, depending on the work that she is currently doing. The "worker" as she helps with physical tasks, the "mama" which has several interpretations, the "maid" as she makes her mama a cup of tea, the "cleaner" as she tidies away at the end of the day. A constant evolution of roles of which i am always respectful, often having to apologetically ask their name.
The only props that have supported this long-term enquiry were a basketful of assorted clothes, a range of bags and a pile of blankets with which to construct the set.
Nothing ever had the same appeal to Ruby as this imaginative world.
It has certainly been her means to understanding the world she inhabits; the characters, the relationships and the power dynamics.
In the last couple of years this deep learning through imaginative play has looked nothing like that of other children her age. At times this unsettled me and I would have to return again and again to trusting her to orchestrate her own learning. What always reassured me was that Ruby's play was always so engaging and how could anyone question such purposeful work?
Now that she is only a while away from being seven I see that she inhabits more and more the same present-day world that I mostly inhabit. She sits quietly at times. She wonders what to do next. She shows more interest in goal-orientated activities. I feel the wheel of her life turning a notch.
This deep immersion in her imaginative world has given her such rich stories on which to build upon and this long-term enquiry into character and social dynamics, such a sound platform for her personhood to grow upon.
It's such a pleasure to watch her unfold.