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More Princesses! More Queens!
cap, captain miss america
teaberryblue
I always find it fascinating what conversations or posts really seem to spur dialogue and what ideas they inspire. In yesterday's post, a couple people brought up make-believe stuff and what they played at as kids, so I would like to invite you all to talk about what kinds of things you liked to make believe about when you were a child. I've made another poll, just to help people start thinking about these things, because I think it sometimes takes some memory-jogging. Tell me what some of your most beloved make-believes were when you were a kid! I am going to leave mine out for now and will probably talk about them to people in the comments once the discussion gets going, or I will post more about them later.

When you were a kid, did your "make-believe" playtime more frequently involve:

Pretending you were someone or something else
12(21.1%)
Playing out stories with dolls, toys, or other objects
19(33.3%)
Actually "telling," drawing, or writing down stories
2(3.5%)
A cross between the first two-- I would act things out with my toys or pretend my toys were talking to me.
18(31.6%)
Something else I will describe in the comments
6(10.5%)

When you played make-believe with dolls, toys, or other objects, were the dolls or toys mostly:

Whatever they actually were (a baby doll was a baby, a tow truck was a tow truck, a seashell was a seashell)
16(29.1%)
Something different from what they looked like (a baby doll was a pie, a tow truck was a pony, a seashell was a princess)
3(5.5%)
Somewhere in the middle--like a tow truck was a tow truck with a character background, family, and personality, or a baby doll was an adult person.
36(65.5%)
Something else I will describe in the comments
0(0.0%)

When you played out make-believe with your toys, did you play make-believe with:

Large Dolls (Baby dolls, American Girls type dolls, Cabbage Patch Kids, etc)
0(0.0%)
Fashion Dolls (Barbie, Maxxie, Xuxa, Bratz etc)
0(0.0%)
Other Small Dolls (Strawberry Shortcake, Lady Lovely Locks, Herself the Elf, etc)
0(0.0%)
Paper Dolls
0(0.0%)
Other Doll-type toys (action figures, Little People, Lego people, miniatures, scale models)
0(0.0%)
Stuffed animals
0(0.0%)
Anthropomorphic Toy Animals (Calico Critters, Sylvanian Families, etc)
0(0.0%)
Other Toy Animals (Plastic Zoo Animals, Dinosaurs, etc)
1(1.8%)
Toy vehicles (cars, trucks, planes)
1(1.8%)
Other Toy Objects (Board game pieces, toy food, toy cash registers...remember this question is asking if you acted out scenes between those toys, so not if you used them when you were playing at being something)
0(0.0%)
Objects not intended to be toys that looked like toys (figurines, artwork)
0(0.0%)
Objects not intended to be toys that didn't look like toys (seashells, rocks, forks)
0(0.0%)

When you pretended to be someone or something, did you play with:

Costumes
1(2.0%)
Makeup
1(2.0%)
Toy Props (toy musical instuments, toy weapons, etc)
0(0.0%)
Other items in the place of toy props (Cardboard tube for sword, etc)
7(13.7%)
Real props
1(2.0%)

Did you prefer to play make-believe:

Alone
35(61.4%)
With other children
20(35.1%)
With adults
2(3.5%)

Which of these scenarios did you play when playing make-believe?

High Fantasy (fairies, wizards, knights, etc)
3(5.3%)
Science Fiction (outer space, time-travel, etc)
0(0.0%)
Grown-up Scenarios (Teacher, News Reporter, Paying The Bills, etc)
0(0.0%)
"House" (domestic play)
0(0.0%)
Kid Scenarios (Going To Camp, Going to School, etc)
0(0.0%)
TV, Movie, or Book characters
0(0.0%)
Historical Eras (Ancient Egyptians, Wild West, etc)
0(0.0%)
Something else I will describe in the comments
1(1.8%)


Answering my own questions!

I never really talked to my dolls or had 'relationships' with them. My toys were a cast of characters for me to use in various stories.

I either acted out scenes with my toys, or played out being someone. The playing-at-being-something was more social-- I would do that with my parents or cousins or neighborhood kids. Playing with my dolls or other toys I mostly did alone.

Characters I would "be" -- Robin Hood, Charles Ingalls, Penny from Inspector Gadget, an Indian Princess named Princess Chattering Teeth, and a fairy princess named Princess Ariel (I grew out of this well before the Little Mermaid movie came out). I would also be Teela from He-Man or whichever was the girl out of Kit and Kat from Thundercats. And Punky Brewster. I also liked pretending to be an immigrant in steerage coming to America. Oh, and the Biblical Joseph (of the technicolor dreamcoat, not Jesus' stepdaddy).

Being an immigrant tended to be something I played alone because it involved sleeping on the floor at night. I tended to play Princess Ariel alone, the rest of these I played with people.

Edited at 2009-04-21 08:04 pm (UTC)

I never really talked to my dolls or had 'relationships' with them. My toys were a cast of characters for me to use in various stories.

I did the same thing with my stuffed animals. But with mine they didn't change. All the stuffed animals sort of had their own live and always had the same name, had "done" the same things, like they were real people.

EDIT: though now that I think more about it I think I did talk to them but that was because they were "real" so to speak, the stayed the same.

Edited at 2009-04-22 05:47 pm (UTC)

My toys were definitely a cast of characters. They had very convoluted relationships, especially given that I wasn't allowed to watch soap operas (and no one in my family ever did). When I was about 11, I started writing instead of playing with toys so much; that's when I started playing alone. Up to that point, I'd make my poor little brother play what I wanted.

When I was in charge of playing, we'd play with toys. But there were two other little boys in the neighborhood, and when the four of us played, they would make us play Star Wars and make me be a version of Princess Leia that was a nurse. So basically they made me stand on the patio and watch while they had all the fun. Needless to say, this pissed me off.

Usually when I had playtime to myself, I read books or played the piano. Occasionally I played with my Barbies, though.

My favorite characters to "be": definitely Penny! I made my own "computer book" and kept adding functions to it. Also Jesse James (my brother was Frank); Peter Pan (I actually made my brother be Tinkerbell, ha); She-Ra or Catra or the Sorceress or Teela (but never Glimmer and hardly ever Angella); Daniel Boone to my brother's Davy Crockett; a sharpshooting prodigy named Lightfinger Lilac...

When it was Nathan's turn to choose the game, we'd usually be sports figures (both college and pro). He liked the Davy Crockett and James Gang games, too.

I think there were others -- there was a whole secret world involving the hollows under the lilac bushes in my grandparents' backyard -- but I forget them now. :(

My cousin (also a girl) was Peter Pan-- to the point where she wore green tights all the time.

That was mostly when I played Thundercats or He-Man, was when it was the boy next door playing with me and my brother, for sure.

We had a secret world under my bed, and a secret tree kingdom, and a bunch of stuff like that. When I turned about eight was when I really started writing (but didn't abandon playing until late, like 13ish), and I would draw out the entire cast of characters before I played. That was usually how all my by-myself play was arranged-- I would layout whatever I was playing with in rows before I decided what to do. My paper dolls got organized into their families, my seashells got arranged in rows by size order. The insane thing that I think of now is that I totally remembered those orders exactly. My Moondreamer dolls lived in an old cosmetics case, and they had to have their house arranged properly before I started to play. I think I spent more time arranging than playing!

I said that I'd expand on #1 in the comments because my living situation made things... interesting.

I'm an only child AND my family lived in the middle of nowhere, at least 20 minutes from the nearest neighbor with children. None of my parents' friends in my hometown had kids my age, either. They were all at least 5 years older than I was.

I had friends at school once I started school, but mostly my best friends lived 3-4 hours away in major cities.

Because of that my answer to #1 is sort of weird. Sometimes I would pretend to be someone else. Sometimes i would play out stories. But a lot of times I would pretend to be myself... playing with someone else. I never had an imaginary friend, but I would imagine my real friends were there with me, so I would do things like play both sides of a board game or color two pages in a coloring book at once- one for myself and one for my friend. Or pretend that I was a dog in 101 Dalmations and that my friends were also there and pretending to be dogs.

Yeah.

For the record, my favorite game to play with another person? Was called Pony Money. Pony Money is, in retrospect, pretty bizarre. My dad and I would play it on the nights when my mom wasn't home. We would watch Nova on PBS and I'd get out my My Little Ponies and my dad would get out... my grandfather's antique coin collection.

No shit. It wasn't like a learning experience or anything that I remember. I just remember we'd play this game where the ponies, for some reason, needed money. And they'd talk to each other and pick the money up and haul it around. Pony Money.

Pony Money sounds a lot like a lot of the things I used to play, actually. I used to play stuff with Strawberry Shortcake dolls and beads!

That is kind of interesting about the make-believing your real friends were there as opposed to having make-believe friends. I never had any make-believe friends but I tried to a lot. I would make up make-believe friends like they were characters or somethign weird like that.

I played totally different stuff with other kids than what I played with myself. When I was with other kids, it was everything to pretending to be horses/superheroes/cowboys/american revolutionaries.

When I played alone (and this was a lot of the time because I was an only child.) I played with toys, whether they were horses, barbies, stuffed animals. They always had personalities and adventures. I played with ragdolls and even made creatures from pipe cleaners too. So yeah.

That stuff was mostly soap operay- like having to go on adventures, getting secret married, whatever.

Also, I could play for hours. My Nana always talks about how I could amuse myself for hours, alone, with my toys. So yeah.

I never used to play at being someone or something else, but I quite often pretended that I was somewhere else. Really haven't changed much on that point.


I was a loner kid; I was always too weird for the room, or way smarter than any other potential peer-playmates, or both. When other girls my age started into a trend--Jem and the Holograms, Sweet Valley Twins--I would follow it closely enough that I could be completely conversant about it, just because I was lonely and bored and wanted to have something to talk about. But most of what I really enjoyed went on in my own head, and no one was invited.


I tended to use objects in my stories, but they were always common objects that, in the context of the story, were invested with great power: the old "magical item that is secretly the gateway to another land" schtick. I kept a lot of simple junk as key elements in my games, and, now, I wonder if it wasn't because an item like a porcelain bell or fancy prism-fob from a keychain was more likely to slip under my mother's radar.


Actually, thinking about it? I get the impression that, to my parents (read: mother) "making things up" was vaguely linked to "hearing voices" and "having hallucinations." Which is probably why I kept it quiet.


Uhm, I mostly played with horses, who could talk and there was this incredibly complicated crowd of horses called The Herd, and int he Book of the Herd was written every story that ever happened to them. The Barbie dolls were evil giants who were striving to enslave the Herd and use them as mere carriage horses and tried to force them to be saddled and bridled, but the Herd was wild, and always in the end, broke free.

There were two, small dolls with joints were not Barbies but something else, and they could run with the Herd and ride them, ebcause they wanted the horses to stay exactly as they were and accepted them as wild and strange and natural.

So... I'm not sure if that's fantasy.

I guess to summarize my responses, I tended to play alone and act out WILD situations that were real/believable for an adult. I often used toys and objects as a part of this make-believe, generally as props or fellow characters.
I felt really embarrassed by my pretend-play. I was aware that it was silly and that adults didn't understand it, so I thought I had to do it more in secret. When I was VERY small, I'd occasionally involve my mom or brother, but it was almost always just me me me.

I liked to pretend I was a really dramatic character, like the female romantic lead or the comedic underdog. I was really big on pretending to be Cleopatra, too.

Which of these scenarios did you play when playing make-believe?

You missed a big one! Myself, and a lot of other people I knew as kids, would pretend to be non-anthropomorphic animals/dragons/dinosaurs, etc, and run around doing "wild animal" stuff.

What's also weird is that this almost perfectly augments a conversation I was having this morning with someone about how the online art world, in some cases, operates to fill the same need for "pretend" and "play"- as we get older, we don't need representational objects as much, so RP and collaborative artwork/character interactions becomes the equivalent of "look at my Batman toy- now you make up a villain so we can play!"

I had my barbie (and knock off variants) that I scalped, painted and made into fierce girlie indian warriors. The poor lonely Ken (the knock off variant, he had real hair) spent most of his time being tied up. He had the most joints you see.

I made the clothes and weapons for them myself, and got feathers from my cousins parakeet.

Was the same when I played myself, it was mostly historical stuff, making weapons and stone axes, hunting, preparing food and the like... and I mostly played alone. I've never been much for big groups when it came to playing, they just wanted to play boring shit in my book.

I did the first three things you listed in the first question. I wrote stories for my sister and/or mother, I play-acted with my sister, and my sister and I also used dolls to act out things. (SOMETIMES Kelli would be in a "story"/"play" with the dolls, as an aunt or something).


I did all of those things, too, but I definitely played things out with dolls more than I did the others. I was trying to force people to choose the one they did most!

And I think it is cute that you would use your sister to act things out, too.

I used to have birthday parties for my favorite teddy bear, all the time. As I got a little older my favorite game became making museums and similar things. It wasn't until 4th-5th grade that I played pretend with friends and had elaborate plots about ruling space or hiding from Nazis.

I didn't so much pretend to be book characters as I would hang out and have conversations with them. I guess it was kind of my version of imaginary friends, only extra imaginary and frequently changed.

I didn't really use anything as props a lot.

Edited at 2009-04-22 02:04 am (UTC)

Hmmm. I played a LOT as a kid--many stories, in many ways, with a variety of different people. Even though I lived in a town that still has a population of around 600 people, I had many playmates. I played with boys and girls regularly, and I played with children ranging from 5 years older to 5 years younger than me. I also played with babysitters, and my mother. I also played in a LOT of different terrain and environments--streams, forests, sandpits, the basement of the general store, the general store itself, barns, tree houses, fields, cemetaries, parks, and even the town dump. The ways that I played make believe and told stories were as varied as the playmates and environs I interacted with.

I played a lot of adventure-type play. I had a great backyard for playing Cowboys & Indians, but I mostly played plain old Indians, and I played it by myself with my stuffed animals. I would make up scenarios that required me to be some sort of hero with a cape (with no extraordinary powers, mind you) rescuing my stuffed animals from goodness knows what. Lots of makeshift parachutes, lifts, and other mechanical contraptions. A lot of me being some kind of engineer. I loved Egon from Ghostbusters, and sometimes pretended I was like him, but not him per se.

PLAYMOBILS.

Holy crap, I completely forgot about Lady Lovelylocks. FTW.

I would construct elaborate costumes out of knitted blankets my grandmother made. We have pictures somewhere.

When I was in elementary school, I'd run off by myself and pretend that this area in the corner of the playground was my secret kingdom, and all of my friends were trees, and we were always out to fight the evil Reckless Creature who lived for destroying the kingdom. His minions were the obnoxious boys who threw rocks at squirrels.