Friday, May 05, 2006

A Precious Gift

A parent has so much to give their child. Love, acceptance, knowledge just to skip along the surface. But there is something I see so many parents today snuffing out for whatever reason, something natural to children, something that can set them free, take them on amazing journeys, open possibilities of dreams and assure they would never be bored. (Unless they are set on being bored that is.) It's imagination.

Imagination is a tool kids can use to escape for just a little while this crazy world we're all stuck in. To sit and watch the clouds, imagining the shapes of all kinds of things. To stare at the stars on a clear night and imagine things happening beyond our reach. C.S. Lewis, JRR Tolkein, Madeleine L'Engle, just to name a few big names, these authors knew how to carry their readers to new lands and make the story become real.

So why do I see so many children who wouldn't read one of these authors for any reason, why did the Chronicles of Narnia get a resounding "BOOOO" when the school chose it as the movie to show on rewards day? My girls loved it. I've nurtured their imaginations so nothing to them is "weird" -- it's fun.

But with more and more kids drooling over Survivor, Big Brother, Lost and the like and toys like tea sets and baby dolls no longer a big thing compared to electronic talking stuffed animals, mechanical pets and all, are we all coming dangerously close to erasing the value of an imagination?

Why shouldn't a tree limb become a horse, a backyard become another world in midieval times and a cloud become a dragon? Why shouldn't they enjoy Middle Earth and travel with Gandalf and Bilbo Baggins or Lucy, Peter, Susan and Edward in Narnia and enjoy it immensely?

I nurtured my own imagination out of boredom as a child. I admit, spending most of my time on an 1800's farm made it easy. As an adult, I'm glad it's still intact. I can see faces in the tile ceiling patters and in trees. Sure, I know it's just the pattern of bark, but it can really add some interesting aspects to a fictional story.

It's important to let kids dream, to encourage them to sail among the clouds in their day dreams maybe even more so today than it was years ago. Kids are under a lot more stress today than ever before. Nurturing an imagination to get their focus off tragedies, dangers and the ugly side of human nature could only be a good thing in my opinion.

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