I know pretending isn’t always good, but it can have the power to get us over some of life’s biggest hurdles. I believe in pretending.
My ten-year-old son is severely brain-damaged and most likely he doesn’t comprehend much of what goes on around him. But, I believe in pretending that he does comprehend. I am not always the best pretender. Some days I can’t get past the realness of his blank stares, the limp body, his heavy silence and stillness. Other days, I am better, and I can talk to him as if we were having a two-way conversation, as if he absorbed my every word.
I have been pretending as long as I can remember. After a traumatic event as a child, I pretended that the incident never happened. Because of this, I had to go back as an adult and heal the old wounds, which was difficult. The denial may have caused some emotional problems later on, but I believe I made a brave choice as a child. I denied the trauma so that I would still be able to enjoy the rest of my childhood.
Some nights as I lay in bed, I close my eyes and imagine that my non-verbal son speaks with me in a beautiful meadow. I watch him walk and then run through the flowers. Other nights, I envision being on the old farm of my grandmother, who now has Alzheimer’s. In my vision she is still healthy and vibrant. We drink tea together and she tells me marvelous secrets.
Once a month, my husband plays a role playing game with his friends and they all pretend to be a number of fantastic characters. There is always much laughter coming from the living room and I’ve grown to love the sounds of their strange, bizarre and imaginary conversations. I know these hours of pretend invigorate my husband for the work days ahead. These games keep him young and creative.
I still love Mr. Rogers’ The Land of Make Believe, drawing pictures of fairies and looking at children’s books. I don’t ever want to give up these things. I may never be adult enough for some people, but that’s okay. Pretending is part of me and I’m not giving it up.
My youngest son, who’s three, pretends daily that he’s a cat named Meow-Meow. We usually go along with it and pretend he’s a cat too. After all, don’t most of us just want what a cat wants? To be cuddled and loved, fed and watered, played with, and sometimes just left alone to lay in sunbeams?
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