Last night the little girls and I were on our way home from the gym. There is a home in our community that has their land filled to the rims with colorful sculptures. They line the winding driveway and surround the house. Some are crazy things we aren’t sure of, others are things like peacocks made of branches and sticks. As we drove by last night I said “can you imagine how amazing it would be if you discovered a passion, like making sculptures and art, and were able to do that every single day?” The little girls were very excited by the idea. My oldest little girl, who’d had gymnastics earlier in the evening, said “I would be a gymnastics teacher and do gymnastics every day for like six hours!” I told them that I would write stories and both of them were surprised and exclaimed “REALLY?!” I elaborated, telling them that I would write stories, and write about our life adventures, and do it all the time if I could. My littlest little girl said “that would be so cool!” My oldest little girl agreed. And I realized that it was the first time I’d ever verbalized that dream in front of my little girls.
What the what?!
I’ve had a challenging few months. That’s no secret. In that time, as we’ve struggled to keep moving forward with bright smiles on our faces and semi-positive attitudes, I’ve lost site of some things. Things that would help in times of challenge. Things like DREAMING, and HOPE, and EXCITEMENT for the future.
Umm…I miss those things. A bunch.
Today is the day to shut the door on the frustration, irritation, and fleeting moments of despair that have been hanging around for the past few months. It’s time to reopen the door to imagination, dreaming, ridiculous bouts of laughter, and exciting thoughts of what’s to come. For all of us…even my literal-to-the-bone husband who is firmly rooted in reality.
I heard a report a year ago about a newer school in inner-city Chicago that was sending its first class off to college in the fall. Every single student had been accepted, and was going, to college. Many of them the first in their families to do so. When the reporter asked what was different about this school, and about these kids, the Dean explained that in many families in the area college is not an expectation. In many cases college wasn’t ever discussed which subsequently meant it wasn’t a part of the child’s world view. If nobody is talking about college, or thinking about college, why would a child ever believe that it was in the cards for them? At this particular school they made college a constant part of conversation. It was fascinating!
It stands to reason, then, that if children don’t hear or talk about traveling to far-away lands? If they don’t make-believe or aren’t encouraged to use their little imaginations? If they don’t know that their parents are dreaming and plotting exciting adventures for their future? If they don’t laugh their little tails off on a regular basis? If they don’t see their parents treating each other with care, and kindness, and adoration? How will they ever know that such things are possible? Or better yet, how will they ever know that those things SHOULD happen?
Our little girls have four parents who are dedicated to furthering themselves academically. All of us have attended, or are making our way through, college. There are Master’s degrees completed and others being contemplated. We have conversations about how scary and exciting it will be to live in dorms. How exciting it will be to learn so much. College, for our little girls, is something that is good and exciting and important. Thankfully we will never have to work, later in their lives, to convince them of the value of education. It’s already been firmly instilled in them.
But imagination, and dreaming, and joy, and travel, and philanthropy? These are things that I feel sometimes fall by the wayside when regular life gets in the way. When we adults get bogged down with work, and relationships, and money, and responsibilities that sometimes feel oh-so-overwhelming. When there are crazy schedules in place it’s hard to carve out time for make-believe.
This morning I had an idea. What if every Sunday we have “Storybook Sundays” and the girls and I each go to our own little corner of the house, write a story, and come back together to read them to each other? Not long stories…just short ones. Wouldn’t that foster an environment in which creativity is nurtured and celebrated? Wouldn’t it also help them with their spelling, writing, and reading? Furthermore, wouldn’t it allow me to write in a way that’s different from what I do here? So what I’m saying is…wouldn’t it be a win-win-win?
I want to provide the kind of home in which the girls can dream big, use their imaginations, create art, and spin the globe and actually see themselves traveling the world. I want that to be their normal. So that as they grow and develop passions and choose their educations and careers and relationships…it will all be built upon years of creating, hoping, and dreaming big. It’s the only way that their lives will have any resemblance to fairy tales.
I want to help make that happen and I could certainly use a refresher course myself!
TODAY: What if we breathe some life, joy, hope, and dreams back into this house? What if we set aside the challenges and enjoy our imaginations? What if we have the ability to create the kind of world we want our kids to live in simply by allowing them to dream, make believe, and create? Wouldn’t that be something???
PS – If you have amazing ideas for keeping your children dreaming and creating please share them below! I’d love more ideas!!!