When we were busy doing apples, Pookie was busy, too: my friend had brought out a dollhouse, furniture, and dolls for Pook to play with in the living room--away from the mess and fray of apple processing.
And my daughter? The wild one who's always into everything? The one who brings me food I didn't know she could reach and fills the bathroom sink with water and cotton swabs when I'm not looking?
She was playing--deep play. Roles and dialogue and furniture-just-so playing. She has hit that stage in childhood, and it is good, good, good.
Please know that I don't just say that because it means she's quiet for long stretches (though I do enjoy it). It is good because she is developing all kinds of skills and capacities as she plays, as shown in a study that revealed that imaginative play develops greater executive function.
But my favorite part? It's when she informs me that she can't do x, y, or z with me, because she has important "work play" waiting for her. Usually it involves the kitchen sink and a lot of water on the floor, but mess is a small price to pay for her efforts.