When Kids Speak the Truth: "You Never Play!"

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As we were getting ready for school and work this morning my 5-year-old daughter out of the blue exclaimed, “I’m always going to play even when I’m a grown up. You never play.”

Ouch. Reality really does bite, especially coming from an observant preschooler. I don’t really play enough and her comment got me thinking about what I was like as a child. My mom always said I was 3 going on 30 because I was serious and responsible (like my spawn), but I also had a wild imagination. I spent endless hours in my own make-believe world.

I took my brothers on “horseback” adventures (the two-wheeled kind) around the neighborhood where we would stop at various stores (large rocks), visit imaginary people (trees) and come back to our home in the sandbox. We played bartender in the basement using the barn-lumber bar left by the previous owners (probably not the most appropriate play topic for kids, but hey it was the 70s when it was still OK to take kids into smoky bowling alleys every Friday night). To this day, I still have to make an occasional apology to my brother for making him wear my nightgown and barrettes so he could be my sister.

My daughter’s imagination, though, puts mine to shame. She lives in her own world much of the time, caring for sick pets and babies, getting on airplanes to California and New York (places I've traveled for work). She even went to Paris in her mind before we made the trip by air. I’ve had friends tell me they’d like to spend a day living in my daughter’s head. I agree. It’s quite the journey.

In the midst of daily life, I often forget the pure joy of losing yourself in thought or activity, of telling stories and making your mind come to life. Her harsh observation gave me insight into the happiness that comes from losing yourself. So I’m rekindling some of the loves that feed my creative soul: writing, drawing, even a bit of painting. While my Huffy 10-speed is no longer my horse Sundance, there’s no reason that I can’t still take an imaginary journey into the sunset.

Bike Riding in the Sunset
Credit: Jenna Hatfield.

I hope today you take a moment to let your imagination run wild. As Freddie Mercury would say, "Get on your bike and ride."

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