Hollow Tree Ventures parenting humor
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The Rules of Playing Pretend

I'll bet that, like me, you thought playing pretend was all about using your imagination, where rules fly out the window on the wings of a fairy, logic disappears in a poof of rainbow-scented unicorn dust, and anything is possible.
Boy, are we stupid.
The play kitchen is pretty much organized
the exact same way my real kitchen is,
which is to say not at all.
I must've forgotten this, since my childhood occurred several years ago and there have been so many intervening episodes of brain cell annihilation since then, but there are very complicated rules that dictate what's acceptable and what's not in the realm of pretend play.

Luckily, I have a little seven year old girl who likes to play pretend games and  never shies away from an opportunity to remind me of the proper way to do things.

So here, for reference purposes, is a list of what is considered believable and what is deemed ridiculous when engaged in an episode of Pretend Restaurant, as recently taught to me by Zoe.

The Proper Use of Your Imagination
(Restaurant Edition)

1. Kitchen Supplies
Acceptable:  A miniature tub of butter can, in rapid succession, be used as butter, then flour, then as a chocolate chip dispenser.

Acceptable: You can pretend a heart-shaped cookie cutter makes round cookies, and that a single bowl of batter can be used to make five completely different flavors.

Mmm, magical invisible chocolate/butter cream/
sugar/chocolate chip cookie dough...

Unacceptable: A piece of bread cannot be used to represent a piece of toast, because (duh) "I don't have a toaster."

Unacceptable: You may not use this as a substitute for a cookie sheet, even though it's the only flat thing in the room that fits in the oven, because obviously  it is a bowl of peas.

2. Cooking
Acceptable: Cookies take 45 minutes to bake.  This equates to 30 seconds in real time.

Unacceptable: You can't use the timer on the fake microwave when you're baking cookies, because clearly it says 59 minutes, not 45.

I'd like to know why they decided to put a picture of
stuffed peppers on the front, something that I'm
pretty sure isn't cooked in a microwave and that no kid
on Earth would ever eat anyway.

3. Serving
Acceptable: All foods created by the chef are not just edible, but delicious,  so delicious you fear your face might explode with the deliciousness, maybe the most delicious thing ever in the history of food, and must be greeted and consumed with enthusiastic yum-yum noises.  That's right, ALL THE FOODS, no exceptions.  Even this salad:

Secret Sauce recipe (get ready to Pin this!):
butter, vanilla, and pickle juice

4. Role Playing
Acceptable: Pretending your baby sister is an inept Chef's Assistant who only speaks Italian to explain why she's in your kitchen, destroying everything and not listening to a word you say.

She's on the sauce.

Unacceptable: Pretending that you're a new customer without first establishing a new identity by wearing a different accessory and using a different foreign accent.

Unacceptable: Reusing an accent, even though the only ones you can do are Southern, British, French, Really  Southern, Valley Girl, and some weird combination of German and Count von Count from Sesame Street.

I hope this handy summary will save you from being on the receiving end of several exasperated sighs and eye rolls the next time you're ordering a fake meal at a fake restaurant from a fake chef near you.

1 click = 1 vote = 1 happy lady who'd be getting her stomach pumped right now if she'd actually eaten half the stuff that was served to her, but who secretly enjoyed having an excuse to wear a feather boa.
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Anonymous said...

So adorable! Love this...

It's funny though we have a few different rules at our house - but, I'll bet they are enforced with the same intensity!!

RobynHTV said...

Thanks, and I'll bet you're right! The trouble is, the rules will probably all be different next time. :)

Paige Kellerman said...

Wait, how'd your cute baby get in my kitchen? And take pictures? I'm so embarrassed. Although, you have to admit how I've organized all my soup pots on the floor is pure genius.

RobynHTV said...

So true! They're always within easy reach, and when you're not cooking soup they make excellent shoes!

Cat said...

I think my face exploded with laughter! And who needs an excuse to wear a feather boa? I guess I NEED a feather boa, but if I HAD one, I wouldn't hesitate to wear it on any occasion, no matter how inappropriate. Like the dentist today. Maybe I wouldn't need a root canal if I wore a feather boa. There's logic there, right?

RobynHTV said...

I think you're right - from what I understand, fancy rich feather boa people aren't subject to tooth decay. At least that's what I choose to believe. ;)

Stacey said...

I'm pretending to work right now. Glad there are no kids (or bosses) around to tell me I'm doing it wrong. =)

Stacie @ Snaps and Bits said...

Haha Robyn, this is SO funny! Interestingly, both of my boys were fascinated with the whole kitchen/fake food thing. Maybe because their Dad cooks a lot too. This reminds me of that time, thanks for the post!

Marianne (Mare) Baker Ball said...

The thing with "pretending" is that the main pretender gets to be the boss. Whatever she says, goes. Next time you play, the rules could be different. Fun post!

RobynHTV said...

Too bad, I was going to send Zoe over to supervise. She'd have no idea what you were doing, but she'd never let on.

RobynHTV said...

That's great! I wish my boy were more into it, but I should be glad he likes to vacuum, eh? :)

RobynHTV said...

Thanks! That's true, about who gets to be boss. One of my FAVORITE things as a mom is hearing the kids play pretend, because they never actually play anything, it's all set-up. "Pretend I own this store, but it's not open right now." "Okay, and pretend I came by looking for a job." "Okay, but I couldn't hear you knocking at first, because I was in my secret lair." "Okay, and pretend like I have super powers, but you don't know about them."

That'll go on for an hour, and then they decide to go do something else. :)

The Third Partier said...

"She's on the sauce." :DDDDD

Also, the grumpy fake chef/restaurant owner is notorious for calling the fake cops when you refuse to pay the exorbitant bill. $100,000 is too much for a bagel and some bacon, no matter how good it is(n't.)

RobynHTV said...

That's true! You should give her restaurant another shot, though - lately all the food has been free. Probably because she drove all her customers away by calling the cops on them. Or maybe because she lost the cash register somewhere under her bed.

Laura said...

Hahahahahah! Trying really hard not to pee my pants. I love the "salad". Delish. Can I dine at this restaurant? I'll do my Canadian accent. ;)

RobynHTV said...

Awesome, come on over!!! :) I'd love for you to bring the authentic Canadian - my Canadian sounds like the dudes from Strange Brew, which I always think a real Canadian would find offensive, eh?

The Third Partier said...

We have ways of making you pronounce the letter "u."

Marian said...

Any salad that has a chocolate chip muffin in it is good in my book. Goodness little pretend chefs are bossy, aren't they?

RobynHTV said...

I put chocolate chip muffins in almost all my recipes - it's the best cooking tip that bossy little chef ever gave me!

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