Too wet to play outside, I knew for my preschoolers, this would be a day of play dough, watercolors, and pretend. When breakfast was over, and daddy was out the door, I put on a record of the 1812 Overture, rousing music I remember from the Puffed Wheat commercial of my childhood, in reality, Tchaikovsky’s musical portrait of Russia’s miraculous defeat of Napoleon at the battle at Borodino.
Knowing nothing of Tchaikovsky’s intent, my children respond immediately to the call of echoing trumpets. Up the stairs they race to the dress up box. I hear them pawing through its contents for appropriate gear. My three year old son appears in a neon Hawaiian shirt down to his knees, and an antique safari hat, brandishing a slightly bent cardboard sword covered in aluminum foil. He leaps from sofa to armchair to coffee table. Obviously on horseback, he circles the dining room table as a Marseillaise motif whispers beneath humming cellos. Tchaikovsky weaves in a hymn for Mother Russia as my oldest daughter descends the staircase in the sawed–off tulle skirt from my Aunt Wilma’s pale-blue prom gown. A gauzy curtain wraps around her diminutive head as crown, veil and train all in one. The music grows soft as a divine snow fall freezes Napoleon’s artillery in the mud. My daughter parades the living room slowly waving a chrome baton. Her baby sister sits on the carpet in awe as carillons chime, bells peal, and cannon explode. Victory is in the room. The battle of good and evil enacted by my own children. Their little hearts tuned to a story they’ve never been told.
Those children are grown now. Still my prayer from the motherland is that by God’s grace their enemies be vanquished in this life and forever. Outside my window it’s time to cut the vines and put the garden to bed.
What memories do you have of your children's make believe?