Two walks into the church office with me, and I stop to speak with the Director of Christian Education. Two's getting a bit antsy, so I turn to him and try to engage him:
Me: Two, can you say hi to Mrs. DCE?
Two, loudly: COW POOP!
Mrs. DCE: Did he just say what I thought he said?
Two: Cow poop, cow poop, cow poop. Cow! Poop!
Me: Yes. His grandfather would be so proud - he taught Two to say that.
Fortunately Mrs. DCE has known me for most of my life and knows my family well. She knows of Two's obsession with all things cow-related. And she thought it was pretty darn funny.
And then, a few days later, on Sunday no less:
I was leading a group of little kids, ages 3-7 or so, in a discussion. We were talking about how God can heal you, and I asked each child to share a story about a time when s/he was hurt, and then tell us what or who made them feel better. As we went around the circle, kids shares stories of skinned knees, bike wrecks, scraped elbows, and other wounds which were typically cleaned up by a parent. A band-aid, a kiss, and sometimes a small treat made the injured party feel better. Then we got to Big Girl.
Me: Big Girl, would you like to tell us a story about a time when you were hurt?
Big Girl: Sure! Once upon a time, an alligator bit me, and then-
Me: An alligator? You're making this up, aren't you, Big Girl?
Me: What about a real story? Instead of a pretend story, can you think of a real story to tell us?
At this point, I stepped in and prompted her to recount details of a fall off her trike in the grass at my parents' house, and the group moved on. Here are the key details to take from this story:
Big Girl is obsessed with alligators now and mentions them several times per day. As a consequence of her phobia/fascination with them, we have implemented a strict no-alligator policy at our home. My mother has enacted a similar rule at her house. So Big Girl needn't worry - we won't allow alligators to come in to our houses.
Big Girl loves to make up stories, usually wildly imaginative ones. Her toys often have extended conversations and enact complex dramas under her guidance. I think she may have an imaginary friend or two, but I'm not sure.
Big Girl doesn't always distinguish between reality and imagination, and doesn't really understand why we need to be so strict about that all of the time. And I love that about her. That's why, when she and I picked out a book to start reading chapter-by-chapter at bedtime, I chose Anne of Green Gables, whose wild imagination makes me think of my own girl.