Frozen, Minions, and Annie? Your kid may be 5, but you haven’t been 5 in twenty years now. (Hey, that’s your story and you’re sticking to it.) If you can get enthused about playing a rigidly scripted hour of make-believe, during which you never even get to be the protagonist and are in fact often relegated to a non-human supporting role (e.g. Olaf), then congratulations and I hope you end up being my kid’s pre-K teacher.
But for the rest of us parents with sadly limited patience, here are some fun pretend play scenarios that you may actually enjoy.
No, not with that infernal plastic food that you end up finding in every corner of your home. Get mommy a sandwich. I don’t care if you can’t reach the cabinet, that’s why they make chairs. Quick or you won’t get your 20% tip. The working world is tough, kid.
2. Nail salon
Mommy’s feet have to soak for at least 10 minutes before you start massaging them. In the interim, you can ask me nosy questions like they do at the real salon.
You be Cinderella like you always want to be, and I’ll be the evil stepmother. Now take this Magic Eraser and don’t come out of the playroom ’til the walls look perfect! Yes, of course they had a magic eraser in the fairytale. It has the word “magic” in it, right?
4. Sleeping Beauty
You lay down here at nap-time and pretend to be asleep for three hours and then I’ll wake you with a kiss. What do you mean we always do that? WE’RE ALWAYS PLAYING SLEEPING BEAUTY, THEN. Didn’t you know?
5. The Lorax
Plant these flowers I got from Home Depot. We’re helping reverse the horrible decimation wrought by evil industrialists! Uh, you can sing while you do it?
6. Debate club
Here, we argue about a topic incessantly, trying to one-up each other in logic and factual evidence, as well as charm and persuasive power. A good one is “You need to stop watching TV because it’s bedtime” versus “No, I don’t.” Wear suits.
You be the patient and I’ll be the dentist. Now comes Mr. Water Pik and Miss Floss. What do you mean, this isn’t as much fun as when the hygienist does it? She’s 25 and chipper, what do you expect? … What? Well, yeah, I’m also 25 … but I’m 25 with more life experience.
8. TV critic
Here, we watch TV and then write about it for a newspaper. I think this season, The Walking Dead is a bit much. The character development is — why are you under the couch? Listen, this job is not for the weak of heart.
9. “Pinterest mommy”
Here, we look up “homemade play dough,” “DIY dream catchers,” and “bubble wands made out of random stuff in your garage,” and then create these childhood-enhancing projects while I smile a lot, wear cute clothes, and upload Instagram photos of us laughing. What do you mean, why didn’t we take pictures of the others? Just be quiet and gaze at your dream catcher with an expression of delight and whimsy.