Role-Play Obsession: I Deserve An Oscar

Angelica’s appetite for pretending to be other people (or making other people pretend to be other people) knows no bounds. It began with a weird Peter Rabbit/Mr McGregor role-play that I was repeatedly forced into but has steadily escalated, with new characters added daily until we reached the point I find myself at today, which is surely the amateur dramatics climax. I know around seventeen hundred different voices, can make a very convincing stew out of invisible ingredients and can, on demand, drop into an Oscar-worthy impression of an old wizard or a lonely giraffe. I’m like a role-play expert. We do so much role-playing that I’m not sure who I even am anymore.

“You be McGregor!” says Angelica, who should never have been given free reign with the bloody Beatrix Potter collector’s book set in the first place. Most of the stories are warped. “Mummy,” she says, getting frustrated even after the world’s shortest pause, “YOU BE GREGOR!”

If I don’t snap into character within a second or two, all hell breaks loose. Especially if Angelica has herself already morphed into Peter which – I should point out – takes a lot less energy than my own change into a convincing, evil Mr McGregor. Angelica merely stoops slightly to indicate a non-human sort of stance and then waits with a manic look on her face waiting for me to chase her.

“YOU BE MCGREGOR!” she shouts, “YOU CHASE ME!”

For some reason I adopt a Scottish accent when I become Mr McG, but it’s soon lost amidst my energetic roaring and the clomping of my boots as I gallop around and around on the wooden living room floor. (Good God, roll on the day when we cover the whole bloody thing in carpet. It’s dusty, noisy and draughty and I wince every time one of them falls over on it. If there’s an underlay that feels like the stuff they put into play parks as flooring, I’ll have that.)

“Did you eat all my radishes?” I growl.

“Yes, McGregor!” says Angelica, unable to disguise her sense of absolute glee. “And cucumberererers, and cherry tomatoes and lettuce!”

“My cucumbererererers?” Sometimes I roar so convincingly that Angelica jumps, which is actually satisfying, though I probably shouldn’t admit it. Not that she ever gets properly scared – even when I think I’ve riled her, and I’m about to catch her with my garden net and put her in Mrs McGregor’s pie, she’s never really fully engaged with the fantasy.

“So!” I bellow. “I have you in my net! Your Mummy rabbit told you never to go in Mr McGregor’s garden, yet here you are, plump with my carrots! Filled with my lettuces! My prize tomatoes are in your tummy, the radishes I toiled over are nibbled and ruined, the apples are spoilt, the cucumbers are all but destroyed!”

“Yeah,” says Angelica/Peter, casual as you like; “sorry about that.”

It’s not just Mr McGregor, either – I have to be witches (“You be witch, Mummy. You be witch – argh!”), wizards, a dragon called Monkey, a monkey called Doodle, a horse, a pig, a woman whose house is a squash and a squeeze. You be Frozen, Mummy, you be Dora. Be Backpack, be Llama, be a sneaky fox!

I’m beginning to perfect the art of mime and modern dance, slinking into various characters with all of the pizazz and smooth flourish of a Covent Garden street performer. With a dramatic grimace and a theatrical wave of the arms, I become the Shape Bandit, stealing spots from the bedsheets and triangles from the ceiling joists and throwing them into my invisible shape belt. It’s hard work, but someone has to do it.

Perhaps the most taxing type of role-play, though, is being asked to play someone real, someone you know. The favourite at the moment is Grandad.

“You be Grandad, Mummy!”

Now you have to be really careful when you do an impression of a real-life person. I mean, which characteristics do you draw upon? And if you simply make things up, because you’re tired (the lazy characterisation), are you unwittingly creating a whole new persona for someone which will then be really confusing for the child when they next meet them?

Luckily Grandad has many good, solid characteristics to mimic, including a distinct, melodic voice (he’s from Liverpool and so I like to just say words like “duck” (dooock!) and “book” (boooock!) a lot – I told you it’s lazy) and vast amounts of white, cloud-like hair. The sorts of things that small children easily recognise.

So Grandad is a very popular role-play request, not least because he takes Angelica around the (living room) garden and shows her the (armchair) elephant topiary hedge. It only gets weird when Angelica starts to tell Grandad off, mainly for not taking her to see Granny (where the hell do we conjure up Granny from?!) and then I lose track of who I am and what on earth is happening.

Oh, it’s all good fun. It does make me giggle. The only time that it wasn’t so funny was when we were out at the shops and Angelica suddenly decided to be Peter rabbit, with a terrified look on her face, but showing no other real indication that she was, in fact, pretending to be a rabbit.

“Oh, don’t cut me with the knife,” she begged. “Oh please! Oh please don’t cut me!” I tried to shush her without attracting any more attention to us. “Oh please, don’t hurt me! Don’t kick me with boots!” Luckily after a few seconds, she then came out with “don’t put me in the pie!” and I think at that point most of the dozen or so spectators, who I’m sure were all standing there looking horrified, were satisfied that I wasn’t some sort of psychotic killer. But who knows. I’ll look out for my face on Crimewatch

*© 2017 The Uphill®: *Outbound links are affiliate links, which means that I receive a very small percentage of any sale made. This does not affect my content in any way and does not cost you anything, but you are most welcome to Google the products on a new page if you prefer. All opinions are my own and any sponsored or paid posts will always be clearly marked as an AD in the title. I accept press samples and receive product and services to review as part of my job. "The Uphill" and "Ruth Crilly" are registered trademarks.



  1. Arwa
    April 6, 2018 / 7:42 pm

    Hi Ruth, this post is just so beautifully written. My daughter is so obsessed with role playing as well. They said children easily get bored and it seems it’s me who just can’t stay in character. Every time I pray it won’t take more than 5 minutes (yes this is my limit), but god she can stay in character fo the whole day, and I can’t compete.

  2. April 6, 2018 / 8:36 pm

    I’m laughing so much at this because I could have written it myself (though definitely not as well)! Arthur (my two year old) is obsessed with the Peter Rabbit / Mr McGregor role play and loves nothing more than being captured, put in a pie and escaping while we go find more ingredients. His grandad does a far better job of being Mr McGregor than me but I’ve had the same concern as you about him suddenly saying ‘please don’t put me in the oven’ or ‘please don’t make me into a pie’ in public! So, so funny!

    Glad I’m not alone in this weird and wonderful world of Peter Rabbit role play.
    Megan x

  3. Michelle Saddozai
    April 6, 2018 / 10:35 pm

    Everything so write is so real and relatable. If you ever decided to write a book I will be on the wait list for it. More power to you. Xx

  4. Emily Scott Banks
    April 6, 2018 / 11:14 pm

    Oh man, I’ve had a totally trying, crap kind of day, but this post just gave me the best belly laugh! Thank you (and Angelica).

  5. Alex hobin
    April 6, 2018 / 11:16 pm

    Hi Ruth
    Which Beatrix Potter book set do you have please? We have the large *heavy*!chunky book with all stories but it’s really impractical! Could you post the link please ?
    Thank you

  6. Eliza
    April 7, 2018 / 2:43 am

    hahaaa. I laughed a lot at this. I’m going to add to your dismay and proudly declare how I wish I could be a fly on the wall to witness your masterful multi-character sorcery. Oh joy with the kiddies. How soon this stage will pass tho. *tear

  7. Georgie
    April 7, 2018 / 6:00 am

    Oh my god we have the same thing. Except I get this, you be Anna mummy and I’ll be Elsa. Okay….
    Me: Elsa, we need you back in Arrandale.
    2 yo child: No, I belong here Keave me alone. Let it go! Let it go!! (she’s not one of these cute kids from YouTube who can carry a tune)
    Then she ‘gets me’ with her powers and I need to cry and leave. Then we start again.
    With her 7 year old brother, who I have to bribe with 20 minutes in mine craft. She pretends to be sleeping Beauty, asleep obviously, and he has to wake her up with loves true kiss. Obviously he loves this and doesn’t say “Sadie, I don’t want to play this stupid game anymore”

  8. April 7, 2018 / 7:13 am

    Fvorite role play at the moment is that I am the child and my daughter is mom. A pretty loud and angry mom, I have to say, that sends me off to bed without dinner and tells me off for the tiniest things (it makes me question my parenting method, I can tell you, I mean, she gets that from somewhere!)
    Worst is if she wants to play at the shops, as I (the child) don’t really agree with what she (the mom) deems fit to put into our cart.

  9. Caitlin
    April 8, 2018 / 12:33 pm

    Thank you for making me laugh out loud on this grey, rainy Sunday.

  10. Hailey
    April 9, 2018 / 11:48 pm

    Laughing so so so loudly at this. My 3 yr old had me being a mean mr mcgregor for days and i regretted reading the story. You never know what will stick with them and what you will be repeating alllll day long.

  11. Strawberry1
    April 16, 2018 / 12:50 am

    Oh the memories you bring back. [On the odd occasions I have posted on your blog or Youtube this is how I always seems to start.] My son had about six teddy bears each with different personalities and different voices all of which I had to ‘do’. If there was a picnic on the kitchen floor with all of them I could be hoarse for hours after being Joggy or Parsley or all of the others. Benjamin was a baby bear who filled his nappy with disgusting, squelching sounds. Simon was particularly fond of me doing him……

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