The Reality of a Child’s Imagination

My youngest son, 6 years old, held back tears. I could tell he was upset.

“What’s wrong?”

He held three superhero toys in his hands. “I’m trying not to cry but I forgot what I was going to do!” And then the tears flowed.

He was going to play with his toys and enact some kind of story, but he was interrupted, and when he went back to it, he couldn’t remember his plans.

And this was serious business. In his mind, something real and tangible had been lost. His imagination was ready to make something incarnate and it had been denied.

The whole thing was humorous and, of course, relatable. We all forget things. Even important things.

But it struck me how important this little piece of denied imagination was to my son. As they play with toys, they create worlds and populate them with things that, in their mind, are real and alive. The toys might as well be living, breathing entities.

Evil rises and good is defeated. Epics are written in a moment, acted out with vitality, and then forgotten every single day.

From the mind of a single child.

This is why it’s important to train the imagination of children. Because from it, they weave and forge realities that further shape how they see the world. If the stories they tell themselves are corrupted, it will only serve to corrupt them further. Like drowning in quicksand but you are the one who keeps spinning out more quicksand.

As you read stories to your kids, keep this in mind.

As you watch movies with your kids, keep this in mind.

And as you play with your kids, learn to enter into their world with ease, not pulling them out of their constructed realities, but rolling with their wild and exuberant imagination.

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