|Known collectively as "the guys," four of the Bean's toys go for a horseback ride.|
My days as Super-Nini continue. Taking care of two very small children three days a week is challenging and immensely gratifying. I'm able to get down on the floor and immerse myself in miniature worlds that are as real as my full-sized one and I've lost ten pounds running up and down stairs while the girls are asleep, trying to fit in the washing and cleaning and cooking before their tired Mama gets home.
I watch the Bean play the games of a two year old. She postures and talks to herself— no, not merely to herself but to her toys as if they are alive and participating actively in the game. She questions them and answers in their voices; it is not own her voice that answers. Most times she is so intent on her doings that I can go about mine undetected. While her dolls take train rides or go off to pick apples and make pies, I can get the breakfast dishes washed and dried and put away. While she colors pictures and comments aloud on the names of the colors, I can tidy the living room and heat a bottle for the baby whose cries often work their way into the Bean's play. “Baby’s crying,” she’ll murmur, making a small, helpless, crying sound. Then Momma Teddy, a tiny wooden mother doll, will stop what’s she’s doing to hold the crying paper baby in her arms and rock her.
Sometimes the Bean looks up quickly from her play, fixing my whereabouts in her mind. I can see the flicker of recognition but there doesn’t seem to be a separation of her real and imaginary worlds and when I am on the floor with her amid the scattered dolls and clay apples and the small playhouse, the miniature cars and train engines and miniscule plates and cups, I follow her into the world of altogetherness, of play that is not play as much as it is just being.