My seven-year old daughter and I are reading Pilgrim�s Progress together this year. Yesterday, we came to the part when Christian fought Apollyon. My three-year old son listened in attentively because the duel had swords in it and that particular word, �sword� is the love of his life right now. He couldn’t help himself and picked up his sword (which is attached to his belt at all hours of the day ) and began fighting the imaginary monster with a passion.
A moment of inspiration came to me and I quickly grabbed my pretend darts and shouted out a lie to them, �God doesn�t love you!�
Dear Daughter grabbed a nearby toy sword and responded with a sounding blow upon my head while shouting aloud, �For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him shall not die but have eternal life!�
I, Apollyon, threw another dart, �Your brother is being mean so you should not share your toys with him.�
She paused for only a moment, �A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs it up!�—while raising her shield.
I was thrilled that she caught on to the game so quickly. Dart after dart I threw, and she would respond with verses that she had memorized. My dear little son parroted her words and used his sword upon the wicked fiend as well. Finally, �Apollyon� gave up, wounded and flew away.
Sometimes we need to be reminded why we are teaching our children to memorize the Word of God. Sometimes our children need to be reminded as well.
I love the way Linda improvises a game, drawing on both her son’s love of sword play and the plot of Pilgrim’s Progress. This is truly harnessing her children’s fantasy play by entering into the fantasy world in a way that is not at all manipulative or forced. It illustrates as well the way various habits feed into each other to form a child’s imagination.