“Let’s play tiger babies.”
“I want to be a polar bear baby.”
“You can’t because tiger babies would eat polar bear babies.”
“That’s not true! Polar bear babies eat tiger babies!”
“That’s not true!”
Listening to the two children, I didn’t say anything, but stepped closer because it was the sort of preschool argument that could escalate, which is always a risk when “truth” is at stake. And truth is always at stake when children are engaged in dramatic play.
By definition, dramatic play, like all fiction, is about the imagination, a place where truth is, at best, subjective. The children I observed were engaged in a game in which they were asserting something that was objectively not true: that they were animal babies. In such contexts, it seems absurd to be arguing over truth, and adults often respond that way when they feel compelled to intervene, yet games like this are crucial for children seeking to understand their world.