I believe we all need to take time for imagination. If my now seven-year-old son hadn’t had the time to imagine, his biggest transitions might have been that much harder.
When my son, Noah was three, he had just moved away from everything he knew. He left his home on Long Island, New York and with it, the town beach, friends, and family. He had a new home in squished up city, far from the beach, family, and friends. Noah missed his old place and had a hard time getting used to his new one.
On his first trip back from his old town to our new city of Cambridge, Massachusetts, something got in his eye when he was sleeping in his car seat. As he awoke, he said, “There’s a buzzing bee in my eye.” He named it, aptly, Buzzing Bee. From then on, the bee lived in Noah’s hand in the new strange city that Noah explored.
Once Noah got used to the move, he announced that buzzing bee flew away.
When Noah was four, he became a proud big brother to his little sister, Mia. His world changed again. We were in the middle of dinner just weeks after Mia was born, when Noah announced, “I need to feed my baby, Shea!” He ran to his room and got his small tiger. When I took care of Mia, Noah to care of Shea.
Once Noah got used to Mia being a part of the family, Shea turned back into a stuffed tiger again.
When Noah was five, he had a switch of kindergarten teachers. He had visited his father’s science lab ever since he was two and was always fascinated with it. One day, Noah told all of his friends that he had a lab too. Every night, Noah ran his very big laboratory in a secret place in the house. He had many employees, every piece of equipment a scientist would need, and created experiments beyond our wildest dreams.
This secret night lab stuck around a long time; about two years. But recently, Noah closed his lab and opened a middle-of-the-night wizard school in the basement of the house.
Mia was Noah’s first daytime and most eager student. Noah also told all of his willing pupil friends about this wizard school and at the park everyday after school, he taught them how to perform magic as well.
Noah’s fantasy world has inspired my own. Over the last several years, I have written several picture books and have just finished my first chapter book, which is (not coincidentally) a fantasy middle-school novel. My own son has taught me, as I have given him the space to dream, that I may dream as well. I am now working on getting my books published. You may wonder if my book is based on his stories, but it’s quite the opposite. When I read him my book, Noah announced that he closed his lab and opened a wizard school, which is loosely based on the world I created. It is wonderful to see him take my ideas and make them his own.
I like hearing about Noah’s school on the wizard planet and am often amazed about how intricate his alternate worlds can be. I wonder when the wizard planet will too will fade away, as with his other creations. Will a new friend or world replace them? Or will Noah decide that he has less time for imagination as the practical requirements of school, peers, and internal maturity begin to take over? I hope he can always carve out time for dreams. I have a wish for Noah: don’t lose your imagination.
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