This is one of those posts that is composed from a feeling space rather than well thought out. I hope I can transpose it into words.
Tonight our little boy crossed the threshold between babydom and childhood and it was so exciting, so exhilarating for my soul to witness that I watched for an hour with goosepimples rushing up and down my spine and a tingling sensation all over. Tonight, our little boy discovered the world of his imagination and as his stories poured out of him, portrayed through his Little Tikes figurines, their truck and a toy airplane, I watched in wonder as it all unfolded, as well as did whatever I was told when he needed something to carry the story that little bit further.
Many parents might not have seen the significance of tonight. Our little boy had asked for my help just before dinner. He mentioned he wanted to build a “Morrison’s”, one of the local grocery stores. As dinner had been ready I told him I would help him after and then I made sure I reminded him after we ate. I’ll tell the truth, sometimes I might not remind someone, if its getting late or if its something difficult that I feel might be able to wait, but tonight I was so intrigued by what he had in mind. What proceeded was a standard make believe game. 3 little characters driving to the store and back home, each time getting macaroni (our son’s favourite) from the shop. Each time they went it got a little more dramatic. First our little boy gave the macaroni, then one of the little men asked an imaginary server, next Pooh Bear showed up to be a waiter and he used a truck to create the macaroni, the game built and built. We took the characters to their house, I watched our son as he built doorways and places to park. They boarded a plane, and then went upstairs to the playroom to go down the slide at a “park”. It was all very indepth… but nothing un-usual for a child who plays with figurines.
What I thrilled and delighted in was watching the birth of it all. An child from infancy thru to being a toddler has no need for the imagination. Rather they are gathering the information offered by what they observe. They wonder in the world, and marvel at every tap dripping, every bird chirping, every mess they make. The world is a marvellous place to observe. However, suddenly, as our little boy heads towards 3, suddenly he has discovered a tool he can use for the rest of his life, the tool that allows him to see life how he WANTS to see it. Pieces of plastic suddenly have character traits, he gives them spirit. Macaroni can come from a truck, and a sock makes a perfect bed. He shifted perception, his own perception to see the world he was creating on his own, to feel his way through it all. I’m sure he will still find wonder in every ant, every bird, every water drip, but there is a new element, which will make the following years far more exciting to observe and for him to live.
As you all know I have two older daughters and I found myself wondering as I watched tonight’s activity unfold, did they make such a dramatic crossing of the threshold? What was it like for them, could I remember? Of course, I think it’s so different for two siblings when they are close together (our girls are 10 months apart). As a parent you provide support and setting up games, but really you aren’t as involved as when there is one. They tend to simply play together. But still, I couldn’t help but face the fact that no matter what, in my early parenting days, I had gotten in the way. As a child I was like our little boy. I had older siblings, but had to rely on my own imagination and storytelling abilities to keep occupied. I had imaginary friends, and yes I could shift my perception to see the world through the eyes of a character in my game. When our girls were still young, I was so eager for them to be able to do this too, so they could have the fun “that I did”, that I tried to show them how. I set up the games… and sometimes tried to show them how to play them. Over the years I have learnt to let go of results and I watch with fascination as their games have developed over time together… as their mother got out of the picture.
Yes, our girls crossed the threshold from observation to creation, everyone does, but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen such a clear example of it as our boy tonight. Perhaps it was because I was ready for it, or perhaps because I was invited to play too.
I’m so glad I was ready to play, which gave me the chance to observe. Perhaps at other times in my life I would have looked at the clock at said bedtime, rather than feeling that something was going to take place so purposely forgetting it was after 9pm. Perhaps I felt like I needed to play too, to get out of my thoughts and truly get down on the floor to build grocery stores and houses. No matter what reason, I know that our little boy went to bed with stars in his eyes, and I was sparkling too.
Life is a wonderful thing to observe. It starts with observing the life around you, but soon observing the life within you and your children takes over and the adventure really begins.