Then there was the treasure map that my mom and dad, aunts, uncles, and grandparents concocted complete with a boat trip across the lake to an island where we dug up actual treasure. (It was buttons and beads.) I didn't realize this treasure and the story that went along with it was not real until I was in my teens. Vivid imagination.
That seamless transition from engaging in imagination play to wearing makeup and wanting to drive around town, well I'm not exactly certain when it happened, but it did. As all children who turn into adults I realized that real life was interesting in a different way. And, as most children who grow up do, I lost an element of my inventiveness.
The longer I lived, and the more I did real life the more I strayed from when I played with dolls, made mud pies complete with pussy willow decorations, had fairy parades, and danced with lightening bugs.
I got married, I worked, I went to school.
Then, I had kids...
I began to catch little glimpses of something I'd had long ago emerging in my own little ones. Pirates attacking ships at sea (in the tub), Angry Birds sailing through the air and blowing each other up (boys swinging from swings and jumping as high as they possibly can). Princesses, Kings, Knights, Monsters, and Animals of every shape and size roam my house on a daily basis.
My children's imaginations carry them from room to room on adventures and escapades at every turn. It's not often that they desire to leave their play behind to do anything other than pretend. And yet, sometimes it is time to go to bed, or clean up a room, or leave the house. So then, there's me, mom - trying desperately to get them to disengage in order to complete some particular task risking a very disappointed often angry child. In truth, it having been so long since I howled with wolves, frolicked in moonbeams, or made houses out of branches and pine needles I have often felt lost and... sadly frustrated with my kids for wanting to play.
It's funny how when you get so used to doing something one way, it can be almost impossible to see how to do it differently. As if walking around blind I didn't realize the answer was there all along.
If I remember when it's time to leave in the car the game is, "Let's count American Flags, red cars, stop lights," or whatever else I can think of...
If we have to leave a place that they're really enjoying it can be, "I have a timer so we can see how fast you get ready! Do you think you can beat your last time?" or even, "Let's pretend we're quick like cheetahs, or stealthy like lions while we get out of here!"
In addition playing games with them when I don't have an ulterior motive has been nostalgic, allowing me to relive childhood games such as Hide 'n Seek, Ring Around the Rosie, Tag, Baseball, and of course the favorite in any house where there is a circle, "run around the circle".
I don't always remember, because as an adult I have to reclaim that child-like facet of me from long ago. Having children keeps me young, even as I find gray hairs and feel age a little more than I used to. Children have that way about them. The ability to elicit memories of your own childhood and keep forever those recollections imprinted in your mind and on your heart. To see life through the eyes of a child is beyond a doubt a most beautiful landscape.
And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:2-4