Just call me Miss Kitty

July 15, 2009

As a Family Studies Master’s student with an emphasis on parenting and child development, I place enormous importance on socio-dramatic play, or as I referred to it as a young child, “pretend”. Make believe play is a way for children to practice life, to develop social skills, and to learn about the world and relationships. It requires a good deal of creativity and imagination, unlike television and even some books do. All right, enough of that – you get the point.

(But if you are my child reading this twelve years from now, you should know that reading this blog is a quality way to spend your time, and you should feel free to read all of the archives. Afterward, however, get your hind end outside and participate in some imaginative play.)

My parents placed tight restrictions on TV and computer time when we were young, and, thinking this was normal, we spent an extraordinary amount of time playing outside. Our games took on many manifestations. At times, we played the politically incorrect version of Cowboys and Indians. We had some inedible berries on our property that, when smashed, doubled as excellent face paint. We played a game we called Prairie Days, because we were overexposed to Little House on the Prairie during the home school years. Sometimes, we just played Pretend Sarah is a Princess and Ben has to Rescue Her. Regardless of the scenario we enacted, I donned flowing gowns that were much too long for me and shawls that bore the stains of overuse. Ben would strap as many plastic weapons on his body as possible, using belts and strings and holsters.

All of this is a mere backdrop, however, to the real issues we had to resolve before pretend play could even begin. The single most important task was to determine what our pretend names would be. If I remember correctly, Ben most often chose Derek for himself – Prince Derek had such a nice ring to it. I unintentionally went the slightly more skanky and ridiculous route, for my favorite pretend name of all was Kitty, short for Katherine. My reasoning was that a) Katherine is a beautiful-looking name, and b) Kitty is even better. I am almost certain I got this idea from the character Katherine “Kitty” Brydon in the 1994 release of The Jungle Book. She was gorgeous, and she got a savage who was raised by wolves to fall in love with her. If only something so wonderful could happen to me, I thought.

Fifteen years later, I am now able to laugh about my foolish, overly romanticized ideas. While I honestly do still like the name Katherine, I am fairly sure that John will not stand to name any of our children Katherine, since I am not sure we could separate that name from the mockery he makes of my former pretend name. I do have to admit, though – a very small part of me still likes that cliche, ridiculous version of The Jungle Book, though perhaps for different reasons now. Cary Elwes as a bad guy?



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