Sunday, January 14, 2001

Learning about playtime and fantasies

Contributuing Writer

My husband left around nine a.m. on Saturday morning to go to south Georgia on business. He planned to see his mom and visit his sister as well.

We'd had our grandchildren over Thursday night and did not plan to give them up again until later in the day on Friday, so I stayed home and played.

Yes, played. There was a time I didn't know how. It's hard to remember it now, but it was real. As the oldest of seven, and growing up with a sick mom, the ability to play didn't come easily. But it has come at last and that's what counts.

I had thought we would do puzzles and watch cartoons. Turns out Dylan (six years old) and I drew digimons and watched the Discovery channel, while Elise (two years old) moved around every piece of furniture and accessory she could maneuver in my living room, and you'd be surprised at her strength.

She decorated and cooked and talked to her imaginary puppy and guests, occasionally acknowledging Dylan and me.

They have a toy chest that looks like a regular piece of furniture which I used to say was full of toys. I have realized now, however, that it contains props, not unlike the Barney bag.

Props which include three sheets (their favorites). With those sheets, and every throw pillow I own, they can turn my living room into any spot on earth.

It's a good thing Daniel was away. The sheet decor drives him bananas. "What if someone drops by unexpectedly? Where would they sit? You should let them do this upstairs in the play room..."

I just let him go on and on. It doesn't matter. I'm fifty-two and I know how to play at last. The kids have the right idea and I'm not going to mess around with it. I prefer to just play right along with them. Ah, the world of make-believe. It will flee from us far too fast.

My son and their dad picked up the kids around mid-afternoon and I had to run a couple of errands. When I returned I put the room back in order. In less than 20 minutes it would have warmly and neatly greeted any guest. The day was going so well that I decided the guest should be me.

I took a hot bath and dressed for bed before it was even dark. Then I prepared a tray of some of my favorite foods: jalapeno poppers, cheese cubes and olives, ginger snaps and brie, a navel orange, a slice of caramel cake.

These I took to the deserted living room along with a small pitcher of tea. All this while the rest of the world were several days into their New Year's diet resolutions!

I turned on a favorite Tiffany lamp in the corner for some soft lighting.

Then my ultimate fantasy began as I reached for the remote of which I would have total control throughout the evening. I chose the Romance channel, no less, and a movie called "DeJaVu."

Now, I would not want this to be an everyday thing. Not at all. I suppose it is rarity that does indeed give value to many things. I am aware that such a delightful evening could get old fast and I cannot imagine life without my husband. But for thirty-six hours...

The fantasy continued. I imagined the only thing that would make my evening better was to have had a girlfriend over. Then I started to think about who would most enjoy such a time. Within an hour the list had grown to more than a dozen.

So I fantasized about what we would eat all evening and especially at midnight. There's something awesome about consuming calories at midnight.

I decided all my girl friends who came would have to bring goody bags filled with their favorite junk foods. We would spread the food all over the living room very much like Elise had laid out her many imaginary concoctions earlier in the day for Dylan and me to taste.

After my romantic movie went off I began flipping channels to my heart's content - something else that drives Daniel mad. My fingers knew no restraint. What an evening!

I woke up around 2 a.m., curled up in the sofa, draped with my favorite afghan, still tightly clutching the remote and realized fantasies do come true.

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