My son really wants a pet. As hard as we try, my husband and I can’t convince him that having baby twin sisters is the same as having a pet. So nearly every day we get the question, “When can I get a pet?”
My husband didn’t grow up with pets, so he ademantly replies, “Never.” I, on the other hand, grew up on a mini-farm and had as many as 17 pets at one time. I would love to get a pet, but not right now. My son seems to sense that I’m the one more likely to give in, though, and asks me for a pet ten times more often than he asks his dad. I’m more likely to respond, “Someday.”
All of this desire for a pet comes out in my son’s play and imagination. His favorite thing to play these days is pet shop. I played pet shop ALL afternoon. Here’s how it went:
“Mom, want to play pet shop?”
“I’d love to!”
“I’ll be the owner first.” He went to the shelf and grabbed the box of lizzards and frogs that used to be used for counting practice in my classroom. There are a lot of little frogs and lizzards in the box. “What kind of pet do you want? I have frogs and lizzards.”
I paid him with the imaginary money in my pocket and he gave me instructions on what to feed my lizzard. “OK, Mommy, now you’re the owner.”
We repeated the entire process with roles reversed, my son took his new frog to his imaginary home on the couch, and then he said, “OK, now I’m the owner.” And we started the script over again.
We did this until all the lizzards and frogs had been bought, over an hour of frog and lizzard pet shop play, and my son loved every minute of it. I love his imagination and his persistence, and I know a day will come when the last thing he will want to do is play with his mom all afternoon. So I’m going to keep playing pet store, over and over, treasuring his imaginatve years until some day we actually get a pet.
P.S. My son has no idea what I am writing about, and he just asked me if he can have a gerbil.