We recently discovered the Little House picture books and the kids have been melting my heart by falling in love with and emulating the Ingalls family in their play.
This morning my boy built a cabin (blanket fort) for his family before going hunting to feed them. Then he and his sister sat inside their cabin and admired the illustrations in one of the Little House picture books, occasionally breaking the spell to shout “STOP! STOP BREAKING OUR DOOR!” when Baby Sister would laugh mischievously and yank away the pillow-door that was meant to kept bears outdoors.
It reminds me so much of my own childhood. My school had held a giant Pioneer Day event and I was all over it. Mom and I put together a tiny pioneer kitchen as my project and Grandma surprised me with a simple dress, apron, and bonnet to wear to school that day. I was in Heaven. I remember the pride I felt when Piper and London, two popular big girls, stopped in the hallway to compliment my outfit.
It was hot under the Phoenix sun but my face was protected by my bonnet and I happily moved from exhibit to exhibit. I watched as a woman turned wool into yarn, tried cast iron cornbread, made a cornhusk doll, and attempted many of the games once played by pioneer children.
I spent that summer watching Little House on the Prairie reruns and acting out my favorite dramatic scenes. I have one memory which cracks me up now, of pretending to be lost in a blizzard with my baby. I took my doll to our wagon (my bed) that night and wrapped us both in several heavy comforters to protect ourselves from the snow swirling around us. I scared myself a little, pretending to be nervous about wolves, and then I woke up sweaty and nauseous in the night because I had overheated.
Maybe in some ways I am still playing Little House. I don’t have TV or Internet at my house. I don’t own a smart phone. I long for land where my babies and I will spend our days tending to our garden and homeschooling. I love my dishwasher and Kindle, and Ryan and I certainly spend many nights watching whatever DVD just came in the mail via NetFlix, but I also strive to give my girls cloth dolls instead of plastic ones, to read to my little ones instead of putting on movies, and to spend our family times playing board games and going for walks. I long for simpler times and I work hard to create them in our family life.
Last week my mom came to visit and brought along some of my old costumes. There were plenty that didn’t survive the years but that bonnet somehow made it. You can’t imagine what it does in my heart when I see my own little girl pushing the much-too-large bonnet back up off of her face and pretending to be Laura adventuring in the big woods of Wisconsin or the prairies of Minnesota.
My mother-in-law was also a big fan of the books and bought us the whole set a few months ago. I have been able to stave off my deep desire to read through them together since we have been borrowing the library’s picture book versions but I just can’t wait to dive into the series together when they’re all a little older.