Friday, June 1, 2012

The Gardener!
A Modern Day [Imaginary] Hero [Mom]

Since we are always playing heroes and villains around here—all day every day—and sometimes I want to slip some other stuff into the mix—like gardening—so that I can get something done and still have fun, I came up with a new hero persona this week: The Gardener! I had been avoiding fighting by claiming to be just a peaceful gardener who needed protection from these alien bandits who were destroying our gardens that provide food for our village and the whole world. But the hero was fighting so continuously that he was getting exhausted; he couldn't keep fighting on his own to protect the whole village and he was requesting my help. “You cannot just stand by and hope for protection!” he told me. “I cannot do this alone. You must fight or your village will be destroyed!” And so I became The Gardener! My weapon is a garden shovel powerful enough to shield blasts from the evil bandits and to knock them out with one blow. It's rumored that it is even more powerful than money! (More powerful than money? Where on Earth did that come from?)

First I tried to negotiate a peace with these bandits, but they were not interested in peace or reason. They had one goal only—to destroy. We decided to track down the leader of these alien bandits, because no matter how many we fought off, more ships full of alien bandits would come to attack leaving weed mines all over the place. We tracked them back to a secret laboratory where they were doing terrifying experiments with our own garden plants. They were manipulating the plants so that they still looked, and kind of tasted, like food but were actually poisoned. They were destroying whole villages at a time by selling people poisoned plants and taking their money and then watching them eat the poison. We had to stop them before they poisoned all of our plants this way and there was no food left on our planet. We searched and searched until we found the evil genius mad scientist behind it all. He was hard to find because he often disguised himself as an innocent farmer. But we searched and searched until we found him. He was big and huge from eating all of the food from all of the gardens, and he just wanted more more more for himself. His eyes glowed red with evil. And his name was Insanto.

It was a long and difficult battle; there were many casualties and we destroyed as much of the lab as we could. But we knew it was not enough to keep the evil Insanto and his evil bandits from their evil mission to poison all of the plants in the world. So we made our own diabolical device and snuck it into the laboratory. The device put a label on all of the plants that came out of their laboratory so that everyone would know that those plants were poisoned and no one would buy them. Without people buying their plants, they would not have the money to continue their experiments and the evil Insanto would be defeated once and for all!!!!

So I got pretty swept up in this play (apparently my inner 5-year-old is still thriving) and didn't get a whole lot of gardening done, but we had a lot of fun and I think we accomplished a lot more than pulling weeds. I love all of this good guy/bad guy play for so many reasons. I love that my son gets to practice being aperson who protects the innocent. I love that he influenced me to stand up and fight when the time came, because you can't always rely on others to fight your battles, and that he was willing to continue fighting right there with me. I love that I get to interject my values into the play, like trying to negotiate peace before I am willing to fight and casting an unethical company as a villain. I love that it is active physical play. I love that it is imaginative and we collaboratively created this storyline together, building off of each others' ideas. I love the hope and optimism and sense of efficacy to fight the forces of evil—evil at this age being clear-cut bad guys who only hurt people and do no good. I love that this kind of play and these kind of stories leave the door open to explore the complexities of right and wrong and where they obscure and overlap and are sometimes difficult to distinguish. I love that it brings up fond childhood memories of playing much the same way. And mostly I love that we are having fun together.

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