We recently fixed up, painted and tidied out (well, sort of tidied out) the little decrepit playhouse that nestles in under the trees in our backyard. The playhouse is very tiny (think a small shed, maybe 2m x 2m at most) and is emphatically not one of those beautiful outdoor creations that can be purchased these days. We think it was put up by the owner who had the house 15 years ago (the last person here with small children) and it looks like a home job, nothing remotely fancy about it.
Still, my daughters love to play house - they always have - and so we finally bit the bullet, got the rotten frontage & door replaced, painted the whole thing fairy-pink, and let them have at it. It's not flash - it's rough-hewn, cramped, dirty, dusty, bare-floored, really basic. But it belongs to them and it can be whatever they want it to be, every day.
And this week, every chance they've got, it's been all about the little house. The 7 and 5 year olds ported out a bunch of plastic kitchen & tea toys, and their toy stove, to set it up, and artwork to decorate it with. The 5 year old, one of nature's cleaners, has spent happy hours sweeping, wiping, and tidying, begging an old pink bedsheet from me to line her shelves.
The 15-month-old has *so* enjoyed the novelty of pretending to cook at the little stove, bringing in windfall lemons, blossoms, leaves, buckets of sand, for the 5-year-old and her to play with.
The 7-year-old, currently fathoms deep in love with Sam and Frightful of My Side of the Mountain fame, has pretended the little house is the hollow of a tree where she lives with her own peregrine falcon (whose role is played by, in her case, our deaf, partially-blind and darling old dog Basil).
They have all loved having a little place of their own, too small for adults to be part of, really, to play endless games of house and cubby and Masterchef (the 5-year-old does a frighteningly good George impersonation - "Come on, guys! Let's go!" complete with hand-smack).
This house is a little house of dreams, and it has formed the lodestone of our play this week.