I love to see the children play their games of make-believe. One night the son went on and on about which island I would save and why. I was doing three different things in the physical realm as he spoke, and mentally fifteen. So, by the time the question was posed to me, I was flummoxed.
“Umm the biggest island.”, I said.
“Ugh! You didn’t listen did you? That has the ferocious dragon, and not just that, it won’t even listen to you! Do you really want a dragon that doesn’t listen?” he asked. Distracted as I was, I was glad that the irony of the moment was not lost on me, and I chuckled.
Sometimes, I need to get something at night, and howl and yip after stepping on gallant heroes, tired cars, planes and figurines parked on the ‘arena’ in neat rows so they can sleep.
An old cardboard box has occupied prime real estate in my home landing for months. Several attempts to throw the thing out fizzled out when I heard the touching passion with which the son argued for it to be kept. It isn’t an ordinary one: It has hosted grand prix races, super hero battles and has even been used as an air strip for firefighting airplanes.
Inside, you will notice several faded crayon marks, the battle scars on a war-field. The faded crayon lines are the tracks where the races take place. The green colored lines are the lanes within which the firefighter plane has to land, exhausted after fighting fires raging over the crumpled forests of paper nearby.
I was reminded of the poem, The Land of Counterpane, by Robert Louis Stevenson. A poem so endearing to me given the situation with the crumpled cardboard box.
The Land of Counterpane – By Robert Louis Stevenson, 1850 – 1894
When I was sick and lay a-bed,
I had two pillows at my head,
And all my toys beside me lay
To keep me happy all the day.
And sometimes for an hour or so
I watched my leaden soldiers go,
With different uniforms and drills,
Among the bed-clothes, through the hills;
And sometimes sent my ships in fleets
All up and down among the sheets;
Or brought my trees and houses out,
And planted cities all about.
I was the giant great and still
That sits upon the pillow-hill,
And sees before him, dale and plain,
The pleasant land of counterpane.
One evening, all the adults and teenagers in the house were busy trying to figure out how to amuse themselves. Netflix was straining its algorithms, and saying, If you liked that, how about this? You-tube stars were creaking and moaning leading folks down rabbit holes of if-you-like how the soap bubbles popped in this purple bucket, then you will surely also like how the soap bubbles pop in this pink mug.
The elementary school going son, however, was playing vigorously. The Piston Cup was in progress, and he was charging round and round the stadium trying to see whether Lightning McQueen would win yet again. After an hour or two of this game, he became a firefighter, and flew off, his mouth-engine purring brrrr—prrr—vrooom—broom.
Ask any adult about how they played as children, and you can be sure of being entertained.
“Because when you are imagining, you might as well imagine something worth while.”
― L.M. Montgomery,
I wonder when we lost this admirable skill. What would it take for us to regain the ability to amuse ourselves, and delve into the wonderful worlds of our imagination?
I can understand now what Robert Frost meant when he said something to the effect of, the older one gets, the younger the teachers.
When I was young my teachers were the old.
Now when I am old my teachers are the young.