the lion problem

The truth is, playing princess is not Rosie's first choice, and never has been.

Right now her favorite game is this: she pretends to be a lion cub, and I pretend to be a scientist studying lions in the wild. I give her a bowl of water and some pita bread, and she lives with me, explaining, "My mother and father and baby brother are dead from the gunners, so do you think I could live with you and be your pet?"

Then, trouble arises in the form of hunters (or "gunners") who come to shoot lions. I am supposed to tell them, "No hunting allowed," and then, if they won't leave, I am supposed to fight them.

This is where the game gets tricky. I keep trying to use diplomacy to deal with the hunters, but diplomacy (or even "calling the police") is just not as dramatic as fighting, and therefore not acceptable to my kid. I refuse to play pretend games where any people kill other people; but how can i model diplomacy rather than violence in her pretend worlds and still make the story dramatic and interesting?


Maybe my best bet is just to make the story outlandish. Win the gunners over with a spontaneous dance party or jello jigglers. Maybe I should bring magic in, and turn them into mice.

(Incidentally, I can't totally explain where this game came from, except that she has an abiding love for The Lion King, and she recently enjoyed a library story book about Jane Goodall living with the monkeys. I don't know how the hunters got in.)