Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Daydream Believer

(My post this morning was inspired by Masked Mom and her posts about Laura Ingalls Wilder.)

My second grade teacher wrote on one of my report cards- "Julie is a good student, but she's a daydreamer."
It's true. My childhood was spent in imagination.  What my own world didn't give me, books did.  I read voraciously and then lived those stories in my mind.

In the fifth grade, we lived 'in the country' in Idaho.  Miles out of town, the homes were separated by fields that would've easily supported football teams.  Friends lived far away.  Our house was a quaint two-story surrounded by land and behind it was the greatest back yard I could have dreamed of.  There were empty ram-shackle buildings,(Which we were forbidden to enter-of course, we did. Sorry, Mom.) and trees, both standing and fallen, all the greatest playground for a girl who lived in her head.

That year, our class read 'Island of the Blue Dolphins'.  A book about a girl who'd been left alone to fend for herself, learning survival skills and making friends with animals. I devoured that book. Then,  I spent hours in the fields behind our home acting out my own version of the story. I was Karana.  My island wasn't as tropical as hers, but it didn't matter. I could see the cliffs and smell the spray of the ocean.  I pretended to use sticks as my 'bone comb', gathered leaves and 'hunted' for food.

Over my growing up years, I became other characters, like Laura Ingalls and even Hellen Keller. I read every day, long before it was a requirement for school.  That, plus the time I spent alone, either playing out stories, or living them in my head, was my pathway for becoming a writer.

Now, I worry for our kids. My baby dolls didn't cry or move.  My stuffed animals didn't crawl across the floor and our Battleship game was silent.   I look at my children and hope they'll develop their imaginations.  With all of the stimulation we provide them, I'm afraid they don't have the need to pretend.  In this time of technology, reading may be the last of the imaginary activities available.

Imagination is a precious commodity.  It teaches them to dream.  If they can see themselves as Harry Potter or Eragon, then perhaps they can see themselves as a teacher or a doctor or a parent. Imagination gives us hope, it's an avenue to setting and achieving goals.  Our children need to read so they can learn to imagine. So they can learn to dream.

Today, I still daydream. It's how I write.  Time alone with my thoughts, while exercising or driving, or lying in bed at night, that's when my stories develop.  I'm grateful for parents who didn't squash my flighty tendencies. And teachers who encouraged my love for reading and all things pretend.  My children may not become writers, that's okay.  I hope, though, that they are pretenders and  dreamers, that they will believe that they can be whatever they can imagine.

7 comments:

  1. First of all Jewels, I will the Monkees singing in my head all day long . . .thanks.

    Second, I agree - - imagination is the most awesome gift we have, especially as children. I too have been carried away many times to far away places where I have lived and played as a warrior, princess, a whatever . . . yea for imagination!! Thank you for reminding us of the magic of imagining!!!

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  2. Those were the best memories of childhood! I loved those books too and we spent so much time making things out of 'trash' we found and turned it into treasure. Love this post!

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  3. I know my Mom didn't squelch my imagination -- unfortunately I did it all by myself. It's my goal in life to be consciously trying to not squelch my children imaginations. I have to say, Libbie takes the cake -- boy am I glad she exercises it daily. I hope all three don't lose it ---
    P.S. what grade level is that book? I'm looking for books for Libbie right now.

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  4. I have such great memories of playing. I wish our kids were as free as we were. We would be outside all day long, wandering wherever we wanted. Now, we have to be so careful about where they are.
    Meegz- I looked it up and the grade level is listed 4-6.

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  5. I think it's wonderful to be a daydreamer :) Maybe because I'm one too ;)

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  6. This was one of my favorite books, too. We determined when our kids were born that we would have toys that did the playing for them. It's hard to hold to that sometimes, especially when they are given gifts from people who love them but don't understand. So far, though, both of them still would rather play pretend or read books. I think there is something innate in children that drives them to use their imaginations. The trick is to not squelch it.

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  7. I agree with SS that imagination is something innate in children and I also worry about how much is out in the world that can squelch it. The first thing we bought when I found out I was pregnant with our oldest was books--the board book versions of Beatrix Potter stuff for starters. They all had library cards practically from birth and we spent an absurd amount of our meager salaries on books throughout their childhoods as well. I also made a concerted effort to give them as much unstructured and only semi-supervised play time as it seemed safe to do (we are very fortunate to live in a rural town where everyone knows everyone else and looks out for each other). Then, too, the Internet, cell phones and other electronic connectivity weren't yet the force they are now. I think there are ways in which these technologies could encourage imagination, but there are also countless ways it can squelch it. Thought-provoking post!

    (PS--Thanks for the mention & the link!)

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