Previously on "Kit plays pretend", we have seen Kit pretend to do things that Kit does for real. They will eat air from an empty bowl, and wash their hands at a toy faucet. I've also seen them get sort of vaguely conversational with a bear, maybe? That's about it.
But TODAY. Today X and I took Kit to a toy store, and my mom gave them a doll and a toy bottle. And Kit FED THE DOLL. Repeatedly and at length. That is an entirely different sort of imaginative play and we were really floored to see them do it.
I did prime the pump a little, which I regret now; it would have been interesting to see whether they came up with the idea on their own. But all I did was tap the bottle on the doll's mouth and then hand it to Kit, and they immediately took over.
They briefly and uncertainly lifted the bottle to their own mouth. "No," we said, "that's for the baby!" Kit has always been "the baby". But they understood that we were talking about their baby. And so they went back to poking the doll's face with the bottle while the adults collectively dissolved into tears in the middle of the toy store.
(Once we got home they mostly wanted to do toy science on the bottle, which is the sort where the "milk" disappears when you invert it. They did make a very abbreviated attempt to feed a bear, at my suggestion, but seemed to think that was pretty silly.)
I am extremely impressed that my mother managed to find a doll that was the right size, 100% soft (no plastic head/hands/feet), fully naked under its clothes (no built-in underwear) and entirely ambiguous and open to interpretation in gender, ethnicity, and facial expression. There will be future dolls that have more definitive characteristics, but I wanted Kit's first doll to be as much of a blank slate as possible.
Kit also got a toy shopping trolley to push around the house. It's lighter and easier to turn around corners than their big heavy walker wagon, and it has a spot for the doll to sit in, facing Kit, like a baby in a grocery store shopping cart. They drove it all around the toy store at top speed. My mother said they looked like a contestant on a game show where anything you can put in your cart in five minutes is yours to keep. But they mostly didn't try to put things in it; they just used it to help them move quickly to shelves where they then examined and attempted to play with the various toys. I suppose they've never seen us go shopping with a shopping cart! But I'm sure they'll figure out quickly that it can be used to carry objects as well as to help with walking.
On the arts front, we picked up a reusable drawing tablet so Kit can draw on long car trips (they were very excited to discover that they could draw on it with the tip of the toy bottle, so they didn't have to choose between one or the other) and a bunch of sidewalk chalk that I expect will get a lot of use this summer.
Prior to the toy store—the splendid Kidding Around on 15th Street, where my mom bought toys for me when I was a kid—we went to Books of Wonder and turned Kit loose on the board book bookshelves. Two bookstores in one week! Heaven for a book-loving toddler. We managed to escape with only three purchases, including a really splendid pop-up book of baby signs where you pull the tab and the paper arms and hands move. And prior to that we went to X's office ("like daycare for grown-ups"), where Kit was doted on by many people. They held up magnificently through all of the subway rides and new people and new places. There was the occasional fuss, mostly when we wanted to put them in the stroller, but no real tantruming, and they let us soothe them with books and pacifier and bear and food as needed. X noticed that Kit didn't drop or throw anything the entire time we were out. At home they're quite willing to fling something aside when it's no longer wanted, but I guess they see home as a giant container for all their stuff where nothing is ever really lost or gone, and out in the world they're much more careful.
What a great day.