Listen to any older child addressing his or her younger siblings. "Hey, how many times do I have to tell you?" or, "Go ahead. Just ask me about my day." Phrases come out of their tiny mouths that sound just like grown-ups. Because children repeat what they hear. It's how they learn. And they repeat what they see, by acting it out.
In today's child-rearing lingo, this is called Pretend Play. And it's almost an involuntary reaction, like breathing, in children. It gets them ready to join in with the rest of the world, and make sense of things they don't understand.
In the 1967 movie The Jungle Book, the king of the monkeys, King Louie sings an entire song about wanting to "Be Like You." Says he's tired of monkeying around. He wants to walk, talk and make fire like the young man-cub he meets, Mowgli. Young children have this same desire. To hop around on things and test them out. To imitate those they look up to. And to have fun. That's why it's called pretend play.
So the next time your children are bouncing off the walls, as they say, maybe they're just getting ready for this.
If that's too extreme, then take heart in the fact your children really do "wanna be like you." You can help them get there by joining in on their pretend play. Or just help them get to wherever it is they need to go today. Grandma's, the moon, or the place Where the Wild Things Are. Monkeying around might leave a dent or two in your walls, but it will open up your child's heart.
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