In my "other" (non-Laura) life as an early interventionist, I am often discouraged at the playthings available to children. Toys of today do all the work for the kids; children don't have to pretend anything because the toys do it all for them. As an imaginative child who spent hours each day pretending, the thought of children no longer developing such skills saddens me.
Like many of you, one of the imaginings I engaged in as a child was "playing Laura." My cousin and I took turns being Mary and Laura and spent many happy afternoons acting out both the stories in the books and the stories we created in our imaginations. I often read comments by other grown Laura fans reflecting upon similar play from their own childhoods.
But do children today play Laura? I never hear of it anymore. I don't see it happening. It seems like children are too busy with their electronic playthings to enjoy such simplistic but pleasurable play.
At least, that's what I thought. And then I visited "Lauraland" and was pleasantly surprised at what I saw. I don't know if children are still "playing Laura" when they're at home, but come take a peek with me at what children do when they visit the land of Little House.
In Walnut Grove, Minnesota, little girls splash in Plum Creek, as Mary and Laura did more than a hundred years ago. They look under rocks, hoping to find the crab, and they stay far away from any muddy water lest they emerge with legs covered by bloodsuckers!
Then they walk across the Ingalls farm, as Mary and Laura walked to school each day. (But only one of them is a long-legged snipe.)
In Little House land, you will find little prairie girls sitting quietly at their desks, ready to study their primers and write on their slates. You may even catch a naughty little girl rocking her desk!
Even babies join in the fun. This handsome young Almanzo courts a wee Laura, proving himself an able horseman. (Hmm, now we know why Laura expressed concern about being thought of as a child bride!)
On the Ingalls Homestead in De Smet, South Dakota, children love doing the laundry pioneer-style. Ma would certainly have been pleased to have such willing helpers!
And if anyone dares think the art of pretending to be Mary and Laura is lost in the children of today, they need only watch these little girls at work. Yes, Mary is blind... and Laura is guiding her across the prairie for their evening walk.
Want to see your children play Laura the way you used to do when you were a child? Take them to Little House land. You won't regret it.