Friday, July 17, 2015

The Found Art Of Play

I'm a stay at home mom. 
I've been in my current position for a decade. 
We lived in Chicago when Zoe was born and child care expenses were out of our budget.  
It made sense for me to stay home.  
I think that my decision to stay home was, in a way, preparing me for what would happen to Zoe later on. 

Zoe got sick at age 5. 
She missed that crucial time where her imagination was really taking off. 
As her mother, I had worked hard at showcasing to her the interests of art. 
But, when she got sick, it all got put on hold. 
Instead of sitting in her room playing with stuffed animals, she was always sleeping.
She had just enough energy that first year to watch movies.  
And to draw. 
And as her parents, we didn't force her to do anything she didn't want to do. 
She was a whopping 37 pounds when she was 6 1/2 years old. 
The chemo sucked her life away at times. 
Being a sick child in a children's hospital didn't mean she was riding her IV pole down the hallway laughing as she went. 
She didn't paint her bald head. 
Her head was never completely bald. 
She wouldn't allow us to touch her hair. 
Whatever was left she wouldn't let us shave. 
Her hair was all she could control. 
She kept the straggly strands that wouldn't fall out. 
Her hair fell out and grew back three times. 
When her port was accessed she didn't like to move around too much. 
She certainly wouldn't hitch a ride on her IV pole anywhere. 
She would walk very slowly. 
With her shoulders hunched over. 
Looking like she was 95 years old. 
She was always afraid the needle would come out. 
Like it did once at home when she had a violent vomiting episode. 
Her life was filled with needles sticking out of her chest instead of playing. 

Her sister is currently at that age that Zoe missed. 
Gigi is 6 1/2 and almost 55 pounds. 
Gigi plays with her dolls.
With her stuffed animals. 
With her 2,216 My Little Pony figurines. 
She has a lot of figurines. 
Her imagination is out of control. 
Which is where it should be at this age. 

I understand that my girls are individuals. 
That they play differently. 
That they think with two entirely different melons. 
But kids do have days upon days of imaginary play between the ages of 5 and 7 
And now that Zoe isn't sick anymore, the imaginary play has emerged. 

Zoe is 10 1/2 now. 
She's wearing deodorant. 
And watching YouTube videos about cats singing and people tripping over sidewalks. 
Other girls her age seem to be interested in boys and who they are going to call next on their iPhone. 
But not Zoe. 
She's busy playing with her sister.
Catching up on lost time. 
Just two girls and their figurines. 
Locked in their room letting their imaginations explode. 
With mom always at home
I'm just in the other room...

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