Petra still lives in that numinous childhood world where fact and fantasy blur and each is as real to her as the other. She tells me stories about her morning at kindy which begin with her and the twins playing chase and throwing balls and end with them borrowing the teachers’ cars and driving off through the streets of Wellington in search of lost toys. Petra’s descriptions of the fantastic elements are just as detailed and comprehensive as the descriptions of the actual events in her day. I listen to the stories, waiting for the point at which the real shades off into fantasy – it’s not always easy to spot the transition because for her there really isn’t one.
This mingling of fantasy and reality happens at home as well. This morning, we’ve spent a few minutes searching for the grandmother from Petra’s dolls’ house – her name is Mister Grandma. Petra had left her on one of the bookcases getting a blood test (Petra’s Nanny has to have them regularly so Petra knows about going to the doctor’s office and waiting while Nanny disappears into a room, then emerges with a sticking plaster on her arm.) She didn’t think she’d moved the doll herself, so she figured that it must have walked away on its own and gone home. Her theory was confirmed when she found the doll back in the dolls’ house. “Grandma walked home by herself,” she told me.