Back when DD was 2 years old we made friends with K and her son A. DD and A quickly became good friends, as did K and I, aided by the fact that we lived 4 blocks apart. A liked to pretend to be various characters and was known to get upset if he wasn’t addressed properly, so we began asking “who are you?” before making a mistake. Well, DD seemed to get the idea from this that one could pretend to be someone else and she has been doing it ever since.
She would say “Mama, who do I look like?” and I’d have to say the name. I believe her first was “Permie”. This is her own funny way of saying “Hermie”, as in the little elf from the classic movie Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. She used the “P” because his name reminded her of sperm. Yes, you read that right, sperm. One of her early fave books was “How Babies Are Made”, which used to be mine as a child, and through that she learned about eggs and sperm. She thought the sperm looked cute, and she couldn’t say “sp” so it came out “permies!”. Somehow, the little elf ended up with that same name.
For months on end it was “Permie!”. She would be swinging madly on a swing at the playground, calling out gleefully “Mama! I’m Permie! I’m Permie!!” and she’d laugh and laugh. The other kids and parents would look questioningly at me, with a smile, and I’d say “she’s pretending to be a character from a movie”. This would go on several times a day, for what seemed like months. Gradually she began to experiment with other characters. When she first saw Finding Nemo she was Nemo (or, as she says it, “Lemo” – I have no idea why). She was Zelda for a long time, after playing the Nintendo 64 game of the same name. Then when we got the Fraggle Rock DVD set she was Gobo Fraggle for a long time. Lately she is Wubbzy, a character from the Nick Jr. cast. We don’t get Nick Jr. here, but she knows of Wubbzy through the Nick Jr. website, where the kids play many computer games. Regardless of who she is, it’s always the same theme: “Mama, who do I look like?” and I have to answer (for the thousandth time that day) “Littlefoot”, or whoever it is. If I don’t answer, or worse, if I answer incorrectly, I am loudly corrected, lol.
As an extension of her pretending to be a character, she has started assigning characters to the rest of the family. During her Fraggle obsession she was Gobo, I was Mokey, DS was Wembley, and DH was the Big Trash Heap. These days she is Wubbzy, I am Widget, DS is Walden, and DH is the Big Chicken Robot. Over and over I hear “Mama, who do I look like?” followed by “who do YOU look like?” and “who does TaTa look like?”.
Most of the time I don’t mind this obsession. I can quite mindlessly repeat the names and not even really think about it. Lately I’m a bit miffed that I have to “speak like Widget” which means putting on my best southern drawl accent. But mostly I just wonder with mild amusement what this is all about. What part of her psychological development is this represented by? Is she experimenting with concepts of Self? Is she exploring her ability to create a world for herself? Or has this just been going on so long that now its habit? I don’t know. But it is definitely one of those quirky things about DD that set her apart from other kids. And so I love it, because it is so uniquely “her”.