There’s something magical about playing pretend.
Pulling together a costume from various discarded items from your closet or dresser, you can be a beautiful princess, or a knight, or an ogre—
Or a pirate fairy.
With a scrap of ribbon, a toy sword, and a backyard, you can transform a child into the captain of a mighty ship, sailing on the high seas.
Random items scattered about become an anchor and a ship’s wheel. The grass is at once your forecastle, the ocean, and the island upon which you lay claim.
And off the shores of Neverland, only the Jolly Roger sails.
The Captain stands proud. Neverland approaches. He raises his sword and shouts, “Drop anchor!”
“Aye aye, Captain!”
The Captain is over eager and throws our anchor overboard himself. It hits the water with a splash! and quickly sinks.
I stand at attention and salute. “What now, Captain?”
“Now—we go exploring! In the woods!”
Crunch, crunch go our feet in the leaves and grass. All around us, fairies flit to and fro. I eye them warily, but the Captain heeds them not. We continue our exploration.
“I hear something!”
We freeze. I crouch down and I listen, but I cannot hear anything. “What is it, Captain?”
“I don’t know. Do you hear it?”
I listen carefully again. The fairies are clamoring like a thousand tiny bells, but over the din, I do hear something.
“Yes, I think—I think it’s Peter Pan!” Peter Pan! “Shall we fight him off, captain?”
“Yes!” My Captain gives me a look. “Now, shh!”
We slowly step forward. Crunch, crunch—
Peter Pan bursts through the woods, followed by a ragtag army of fairies and lost boys.
“There he is! He’s coming after us!”
But the Captain is no coward. Onwards he charges, and with a thwack! he strikes his most worthy opponent.
The fairies and lost boys laugh, and the tide has turned at last on Peter Pan—
And Jamal ends up getting smacked over and over by a bunch of cake-smeared toddlers and sugar-high preschoolers armed with pool noodles.
Such are the games we play at a (newly) two-year-old’s Tinker Bell birthday party.