I was listening to a pod during which a psychologist told the story of a day out with her grand-daughter. They’d had a lovely time, arrived home, and the little girl had told her, “I have to play now.” The psychologist watched as the kid settled down alone, took out her toys and began monologue-ing. The switch to a private fantasy world was immediate, and yet it was clear the child was processing the day’s events through imaginative play.
My daughter – aged ten – still does the same thing. Some days she’ll come home from school and head straight upstairs. Her room is strictly out of bounds but if you were to loiter at the door and listen, accidentally like, you’d hear her voicing characters, talking aloud, acting out scenarios… processing through play.
I thought about these two connected examples, about the first kid’s emphatic, imperative use of “have to”, and tried to imagine a situation in which I was in some way forbidden – even now – from doing the same thing; that I wasn’t allowed to shut myself away and play.
I’d go mad. I think I might be most myself when I’m imagining being someone else, and writing it down.