Like most years, and much to both my wife’s and mother’s vexation, I have no idea what I want for Christmas this year. To be honest, I am way more excited about Sam’s presents than I am my own. My wife absolutely outdid herself, and used some kind of crazy Black Friday voodoo to score him a bunch of the Imaginext Castle toys. Specifically, the ogre, the dragon, and the castle. They have some sort of tech in them where they can sense each other and say different stuff. That’s cool and all, but I don’t really care about that.
The Most Important Features
What I’m far more interested in is how Sam will play with it. This year, he’s been far more into pretending than ever. Sometimes this involves his toys, and sometimes it doesn’t. I like that the fantasy-themed toys he’s getting are of cool iconic monsters and castles, but they’re mostly setting-neutral. Not that it would stop Sam if they were. He always makes up a little scenario about what’s happening, and he’s not afraid to throw in a game-changing adjective on something if it suits his needs. I’ve found myself playing the part of Good Megatron, a Water Tornado ‘Inja Turtle, or Puppy Optimus Prime several times. The scenarios aren’t particularly complex (he’s 4, after all), but the idea that he frequently doesn’t care what the “real” story is with a character and chooses to substitute his own absolutely fascinates me. I don’t even know how many episodes of Transformers at the Improv I’ve taken part in during the last year. This new fantasy stuff? High-quality ingredients he can draw from for brand new adventures. OGRE INGREDIENTS. And he’s finally old enough for LEGOs. I might explode.
The other thing I find interesting about playing pretend with Sam is that he always wants to lead the story. He’s gotten a lot better about it over the past year, he used to steer you right back toward the idea he had in his head if you strayed an inch. Now you can suggest something might happen and sometimes he’ll say “YEAH!” and it’ll get thrown in and it’s almost always more fun for both of us when that happens. All I can think about is learning how to do that very thing behind the DM screen over the past couple years, and it makes me wonder how I forgot in the first place. Each day is not at all unlike playing a series of tiny one-shot all-roleplay adventures with a 4-year-old DM. And it is crazy fun.
They’re For Him, Honest
I’m not going to lie. I am stoked beyond belief that my son has finally reached the age where his toys are cool enough that I want to play with them. I’m perfectly happy living atop a mountain of transformable robots, toy airplanes, and rubber monsters, and I’m happy that my little guy wants to share them with me and his mom. (I hope he doesn’t mind me stealing the ogre for an epic combat mini some Thursday night…..)
Most of all, though, I just love playing with my little dude. My favorite game is when I’m the daddy AT-AT and he’s the baby AT-AT and something ties our legs up so we have to crash over and over. No equipment needed. There’s just some things money can’t buy.