Monday, April 23, 2012

Changing Places

A friend of my mother’s entertained her daughter one afternoon with a tea party. Her daughter came as Mrs. H. (the mother) and the mother came as Mrs. D. (a friend of the mother). 

As they were drinking tea and eating cookies, the mother asked her daughter/Mrs. H questions about her children. Unwittingly the daughter revealed her own thoughts and feelings on several topics. Wisely, the mother asked about her other child as well so it wouldn’t appear she was prying, but the mother came back to questions about the daughter herself from time to time and gained some new insights into her little girl, and the girl's perceptions of her mother.

That event was a bit of serendipity that came from a mommy having a fun little activity with her daughter. But it can be planned, too.

I have indistinct memories of a similar family dinner activity when our children were all at home. We each chose a name of one of the others of us and "became" that person for the meal. It's simple to do.

At dinner the night before, or at breakfast that morning, you could have each person draw a paper you have prepared in a basket each with the name of another family member. Tell them not to reveal who they have, but to come to the appointed dinner prepared to “be” that person for the meal. 
Photo Credit: D. Sharon Pruitt
For added fun they can dress for the part if they want—at least adding some adornment or piece of clothing his or her person habitually wears. Tell them to keep it upbeat and uncritical. 

At the meal, each one could sit where the person they are role-playing normally sits. If the one who gets to be Mom is able, perhaps he or she could serve the meal. Whoever plays the one who normally gives thanks could take that part.

Play along well. You can act out some of your character’s more annoying traits but keep it lighthearted. Don’t go so far you upset anyone.
Photo Credit: D Sharon Pruitt

Along the same lines, keep your sense of humor if your daughter portrays in you in a way you don’t think is fair or don’t want to be. This is her perception of you. Play along while subtly directing things so they don’t become hurtful to anyone. And think about how you are perceived. Perhaps there are characteristics you need to work on!

Over dessert, talk about what was portrayed. Some questions you could ask are:

Do you think you were fairly represented?
Do you agree with the way I was shown?
What did you learn about how others see you?
How do our actions speak about how we feel about others?

Variation: Each person sits in their normal seat, but acts the part of his or her  person and everyone has to guess who they are. 

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