Portrait of play, week 27


We stayed at the house where James grew up for The Fourth of July. We hadn’t planned on spending the night, so we slept in and wore our red, white, and blue through to the next day. Charlotte’s play at G and Papu’s house reminds me of the way I used to explore and play at my grandparents’ house. The rooms are timelessly kept with all sorts of curiousities and histories within drawers and picture frames. When I was a girl, I could spend days with my cousins at grandma and grandpa’s playing with dolls, going through the treasures in the attic, and making up stories about the people in the frames. Charlotte usually disappears upstairs with her cousin, but since her cousin was not there, she brought me along and revealed many of their play habits. She took me to play in her aunt Stacy’s room where there is a box full of cabbage patch dolls filled with vintage doll clothes and a completely furnished dollhouse. There are swim meet medals to try on and tiny books that I have caught the girls reading on the bed several times. Charlotte got out the dolls from under the bed and after teaching me how to put a diaper on her baby (“this is how you do it”), she rocked her baby in the tiny rocking chair and asked me to help her put a sweater on her doll. She showed me that the cradle for the baby is in G’s room. Charlotte had a few different sizes of babies out and spread out blankets and clothes trying to size them to fit the different dolls. Later on she continued her exploration of size and measurement as she put pillows in a line on the bed to lie on from head to foot (“I didn’t know I was this big.”) G and Winnie soon joined us, and then James came up. Chuck asked to hold Winnie, and although Winnie was crying in her arms, she kept saying in a really high pitched voice, “It’s ok, Winnie,” and then to us in a low confident voice, “I’ve got it, I’ve got it, I’ve got it,” so we wouldn’t take Winnie away from her. I could tell Winnie was getting sleepy, so I waited a minute and then took her to put her down on the floor. While we were cleaning up the doll stuff, Chuck and I found the cutest little sailor shirt in with the doll clothes that looked as if it might fit Winnie. Of course we had to try it out after she woke up. I’ve always loved playing with dolls as well.

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