Wednesday, September 20, 2017

I will gladly eat that plastic hot dog for dinner

After I put Ben to sleep the other night, I came downstairs and heard clanking in our dining room. I walked in to find Max playing with Ben's toy barbecue set. He flashed me a big grin.

Max used to have one of these when he was little. I can still hear its voice: "Let's fire up the grill!" Except Max couldn't grasp the tools or play food. He also wasn't into pretend play.

"Hey, Max, I'm hungry—want to make me dinner?" I asked.

"YES!" he said, enthusiastically.

I headed off to the living room to catch up on email.

Max walked in a little later carrying a pan with two hot dogs, then accidentally tipped them over. It took a lot of doing for him to pick up the franks—they're on the small slide, the plastic is slippery and he insisted on using his left hand alone (his "good" one). Finally, he managed to plop them back into the pan.

I took a bite.

"I don't know, Max, I think they need to be hotter!" I said.

"OK!" he said, and off he went.

I had a pang of "Is he too old for this?" But he was having fun flexing his imagination. He was working on his grasp. And I was relishing something that I hadn't gotten to enjoy when he was little.

I heard more stuff fall on the floor. "Ohhhhhhhhh!" said Max, frustrated. He walked back in carefully carrying the pan. Once again those hot dogs fell out and whenever he managed to grab one it slipped away. I got up to help. (In retrospect, I realize I should have slapped some on some Model Magic, this Crayola putty that helps Max grip stuff.)

"They're hot!" he cautioned me.

I blew on one and he laughed. Then I pretended to nibble it as Max walked off, likely to check on the lemon meringue pie he was whipping up for me. (My sweet tooth has a fantasy life all its own.)

"OK, Max, how much do I owe you?" I asked when he came back, sans lemon meringue pie.

He held up ten fingers.

"Ten dollars?!" I said. "Don't you think that's a lot?"

Max pondered that. "Five dollars!" he announced. So I went to my wallet and gave him five bucks. Then we headed upstairs to his room and put the money in his wallet. He's saving up for his boys' trip to Las Vegas in December. He says it's for food. (See: Mom of the Year.) (See also: What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.)

To be sure, I can encourage more actual cooking, which would be more age-appropriate for Max and beneficial for our entire family, given the fact that I'm not much of a cook. Still, there is no statute of limitations on pretend play, just as there's no statute of limitations on anything developmental. It's not like Max is pretending to make scrambled eggs at his desk at high school; he realizes this is something to do at home, with me.

But if you'd like for Max to cook you a plastic hot dog, I'm sure he'd be happy to.


  1. No statute of limitations on (delayed) joy either! Way to go, Max.

  2. Yes! I find myself cheering on our daughter for things we should have been cheering for years ago, but it's still the best, and never gets old.


  3. I went Walmart the other day and resisted the urge to go down the Lego aisle and get me a set. And then I was Joanne's Fabrics yesterday daydreaming about all cool clothes I'd want to make American Girls doll if I had the talent.

    I'm 33. And in graduate school.

    It ironic that when we finally have our own money to spend, we've aged out of what's acceptable to buy.

    You better believe I jump at chance to play legos and dolls with the kiddos in my family.


Thanks for sharing!