I still remember the thrill of making my own adventures—outside, in my room, under the kitchen table. I call that thrill the “magic of childhood”. From the time I was able to move around on my own, I had a strong desire to be under things and in tight spaces—the smaller, the cozier. The laundry basket, flipped over my back, made me invisible while my valiant “knight” father would hunt and search for me in the small living room of our apartment. I never considered that even if I was invisible, my loud giggling would lead him right to me. It made a huge difference when it took a long time to find me, and I think my dad knew that. The space under the booth at the local restaurant was a submarine, where I could catch a glimpse of odd deep-sea creatures (or their legs and feet, at least).
I wanted to be tucked away in the smallest of places, perhaps because it felt more fitting for a small child like me. My vivid imagination had no limits, and unpleasant things (doctor’s visits, eating vegetables) had no business there. I believed in fairytales, magic, and the impossible because I experienced them, in a sense. I think that can be summed up as the magic of childhood—the ability to forget who, where, and what you are, no matter how brilliant or dismal your circumstances. The ability to go places and do things that you can’t in the real world. The ability to hope for the best, even in the face of the worst. Like being forced to eat another Brussels sprout or say sorry to the kid next door (you aren’t sorry).
Isn’t that what we all want to give to our children—a feeling of security and trust throughout their childhood, to feel safe enough to duck out of reality in favor of a more creative place? Somewhere that acting weird has no consequence and dolls (or were they “action figures?”) have conversations about your child-like idea of adult life. “No, Barbie, I can’t go to the beach today. I’m having a fashion show at the bungalow!”
With my own daughter growing up faster than I had ever planned, I am determined to allow her to explore her own imagination and create a world for herself where things move a little slower—if only for my own sake. And I’ll tell her it’s totally normal to pretend the laundry basket makes her invisible. That’ll keep the boys away, right?