Last night, Sasha took an extra-long bath. After I’d scrubbed her up and down, she began to play, taking a plastic bottle cap and setting it on the edge of the tub. Next to that she placed a tube of Jean’s face wash—and began referring to these objects as Little Kid (the bottle cap) and Little Mommy. Then she brought over a bigger bottle of shampoo—Little Daddy, she dubbed it—and embarked on a drama, in which Little Daddy went off to work, over on the other side of the tub, then finally returned, to much joy.
Okay, fairly clear metaphor here, of my going away on long trips, then eventually coming back. Sasha’s play wasn’t particularly emotional, but it was fascinating to watch her act out our family dynamic with bath gear.
But it was what happened next, when Little Daddy went off to “work” again, that really took me by surprise. With Little Daddy on the other side of the tub, Sasha picked up the biggest bottle of shampoo in reach and brought it over to Little Kid and Little Mommy.
“Who’s that?” I asked.
“Uncle Peanut,” she said.
Uncle Peanut? Who was this mysterious metaphorical man coming to visit my metaphorical family while I was away? Did he stand in for someone real? If so, who?
For a while, Sasha conjured unintelligible interactions among the three of them, and I grew more and more suspicious. When would Little Daddy return and beat the fuck out of this interloping Mister Peanut?
Or had Sasha said something else—Mister Penis? Hm. I needed to clear this up.
“What’s his name?” I asked again, pointing at the bottle of shampoo.
“Uncle Ted,” said Sasha.
Well! Theodore, you’ve got some explaining to do.