Posts Tagged ‘imagination’

sept 06 2008 001

This is a picture of Tee reflected in one of the mirrors in the periscope he built this evening.

I suggested he build a periscope when I saw him playing with a couple of small mirrors and a flashlight, not thinking that he would actually be able to figure out how to do it, but after scrummaging around a bit with scissors, plasticine and tape, he built one out of an empty milk carton, a cardboard tea box that he emptied the tea bags out of, and the two mirrors.

I was genuinely astonished, and he was truly delighted. Here he is in a dark closet, trying to see if the light he shines at the bottom will come out the other end.

sept 06 2008 004

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I’m reading a book called Suburban Safari, which was written by a nature and travel writer. It’s an interesting look at the ecology of grassy backyards, the premise being that we don’t need to travel to exotic foreign locations to witness wildlife.00003

I read a bit of it this morning because the kids were immersed in their own activities, and they wanted nothing more than to be left alone. The parallels between the book and the kids leaped out at me. The two of them are often involved in detailed, complicated play that I am only superficially aware of even though it’s happening right there under my nose. To tell the honest truth, if I notice them playing happily together, I usually slink right back out of the room in the hopes that I wasn’t spotted, partly because I grab at every opportunity to get other things done, and partly because I know my presence will disrupt their fantasy world.

Today they sat next to each other, fingerknitting and pretending to babysit their respective animal babies. This was interspersed with some work on their homemade Pokemon cards, and it was interesting to hear how they’ve woven science facts, evolutionary theory, and Star Wars details into quite a comprehensive alternative world for the creatures on their cards.


Kids play can seem so inconsequential and so unproductive compared to all of the very important jobs and errands we adults concern ourselves with. I’ve often superimposed my day’s agenda onto the kids, and justified it by saying that whatever I had planned needed to be done. The kids are forced to stop what they’re doing in favor of the task at hand, and they put up with it, but inevitably their play sneaks into the cracks of time between bits of important business. They talk to each other in invented languages, and bring along slips of significant paper covered in scrawled code, so that a trip to the grocery store barely puts a dent into the game at hand.
On the occasions that I’ve stopped checking off my mental lists long enough to pay attention to what they’re up to, I’m always taken aback by the worlds that they’ve created for themselves. When I listen to them, I realize how very invested they are in what they’re doing. No wonder they don’t clean up the bits of yarn, balls of paper, strips of cardboard and odd bits and bobs of detritus that follow in the wake of their invented games. That would mean putting their imaginations on hold in order to recognize the real world. Sometimes it’s useful for me to remind myself of how I feel when I’m powered by a great new idea, and to remember that the parallel universe that the kids inhabit is just as important to them as the one we actually live in.

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I found this note when I was tidying up. She’s got a wiggly tooth, but it hasn’t fallen out yet. Yesterday she asked me if I knew the Birthday Fairy very well. When I said I did, she asked me to ask the Birthday Fairy to ask the Tooth Fairy whether her tooth could fall out for her birthday. I thought this was funny, a willful suspension of disbelief, because she’s known since she was four that I’m the Birthday Fairy. Or maybe she knows on one level, but still believes on another?00001
Or possibly she’s just desperate for the blessed event, and is willing to appeal to her imagination, if that’s what it takes.This is a family of late teeth losers. R was in grade 2 when his very first tooth fell out. It happened at school, and the whole class applauded. Poor Jay has been very frustrated of late with her inherited dental retardation.

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I love the kids’ clay city.

Today, Tee and his friend AJ spent all afternoon “mining” for precious metals, making fantasy creatures, and deciding on an elaborate set of rules for governing this city. Tee and Jay have agreed that it’s a smallish city surrounded by mountains, on an island, somewhere in the tropics. It never gets invaded because it’s got such fantastic natural defenses, and they’re intent on creating a system of tunnels (made out of toilet paper tubes) so that the clay citizens can go through the mountains to reach the coast in order to gather sand for making glass.

Tee is planning on making another aerial map of this ever-growing world, and he’s made countless charts of the different species of animals living in it so as to keep the proper balance of predators to prey. He often has to look up the habitat requirements of the animals he sculpts out of clay, and spent quite a while on the computer today researching the differences between copper, iron, and gold so that he could decide on their relative value for trading.

I love how involved they are in this fantasy world that they’ve created. I love their enthusiasm, their attention to detail, and how incredibly consumed they both are with it. It’s fun to watch.

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Tee and Jay were inspired today by a fantastic, intricate, detailed city made out of plasticine. It’s a magic land we were told. Anything grows, and anything can happen. There were rivers, mountains, gardens, trees, houses and forts, a coliseum, an obelisk, and a chocolate factory.

Now Tee wants to build an Aztec city. Jay wants a regular sort of city. Both of them were spouting creative ideas non-stop the whole car ride home.

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