I’ve been thinking about my daughter’s sixth birthday in June and what sort of treasures a girl with big dreams and a love for frilly things might like. I know she’d love a pretty jewelry box to safely store all her treasures and she’s crazy about Barbies and a million other typical girly things. The other night, however, she surprised me with the most simple of requests. She mentioned that hubby and I had forgotten to bring home some boxes so she and Miss A could construct their own play train in the living room. This was something that had come up during the recent super tent construction in the living room. Miss C had wanted to build a tent, and the hubby made one that rivaled any I’d ever seen. It was a veritable fortress, fashioned with bar stools from our kitchen and an old wooden clothes drying rack draped with blankets and sheets to make a cozy lair to fill with pillows and stuffed animals.
I wonder how many times we unintentionally encourage our children to stifle their imaginations? At one point does it become “uncool” to make a fortress with blankets in the middle of the living room or a train from cardboard boxes? Miss C, especially, is at the age where she’s influenced by pop culture and the media. Her opinion is swayed by her friends and she is developing her own inner barometer of what behavior is acceptable and what is not.
My brother travels to Thailand now after Christmas and lives there for most of the winter. He sent this sentiment in a recent e-mail:
I read an interesting commentary on why life seems to speed up as we get older. It is from a speech by Ani Tenzin Palmo—an Englishwoman, who at the age of twenty became the first Western woman to be ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist monk. I read a good book of hers called Cave in the Snow, about spending twelve years alone meditating in a cave way up in the Himalayan mountains—she now runs a center for nuns in northern India.
When asked, “Is that why life gets shorter as we get older?”
“Yes, because we become more and more robotic. When we are small children, everything is so fascinating that life seems to go on forever. Every day is huge … and we are so interested … as we become dulled, as our minds get less and less curious, we go on automatic pilot more and more in our relationships, work, etc. … life loses its vivacity and it seems shorter.”
This is very sad, isn’t it? Actually it is the same time. It seems to speed up.
This is an indication of how we are becoming more and more robotic in our responses. In a way it is a warning sign for us to wake up and reestablish that original childlike curiosity and fresh quality of mind.
One thing I love about being a parent is seeing the world through a child’s eyes once again and getting a taste of that magical feeling that life is a grand adventure, and not just an endless series of deadlines and to do lists.
This weekend Miss C and Miss A raided the dress up basket and twirled around the house like barefoot princesses, rode bikes up to the neighborhood playground and played with an abandoned golf ball, and dug in the dirt in the backyard with sticks. Their imagination has no tethers; their excitement for life is contagious. As their mother, I am simply honored that I get to come along for the joyride.
Photo Courtesy of Jamie Reeves