Sparked Imaginations

The Next Family

By: Shannon Ralph

As I type this, I notice a blur of pasty paleness out of the corner of my eye. I feel a cool breeze as three shapes fly past me. All three of my children are running around the house at full speed with backpacks on their backs. Nicholas has a Lightning McQueen backpack, Sophie a ladybug backpack, and Lucas –Bakugan. Sophie and Nicholas are topless. They are being “secret agents”. So I am told. I love this age when anything and everything can spark their imaginations. We were watching a movie this afternoon about a young boy who became a spy. Suddenly, mid-movie, Lucas hopped up and ran to his room to get “in character”. Apparently, a secret agent wears a black and silver knight costume, a Power Rangers mask, a Bakugan backpack, a Batman cape, and knee socks practically pulled up to his crotch. Perfect attire, I think, for a spy trying to blend into his surroundings. Regardless of the questionable costume, however, I love that spark in Lucas’s eye when he gets excited about something. He throws himself into his play with complete abandon.

Yesterday, we watched a documentary about great white sharks. Lucas then proceeded to spend the entire afternoon building a shark out of discarded cereal boxes he fished out of our recycle bin. In all honestly, it looked nothing like a shark —unless there is a rectangular-shaped species of shark that has yet to be discovered.  The Froot Loops logo emblazoned on the fin kind of took away from the shark’s menacing mystique, as well. Regardless, Lucas was beaming with pride when he showed me his creation. His imagination had been sparked, and he tapped into his huge inner well of creativity.

For the umpteenth time in the last month or so, I find myself thinking that I need to try to be a little more like my children. I would like to allow myself to become completely captivated by something. I can’t recall the last time I was moved to create something out of thin air —simply for the sake of creating. I can’t remember the last time something captured my imagination and excited me in the way that my children get excited on an almost daily basis. Every day, it is something new that fascinates and intrigues them. Sharks one day. Medieval knights the next. Chinese dragons and paleontology. Worms and ninjas and Gotham’s finest. I am pretty certain my children are the only four- and eight-year-olds on this planet who play “Beowulf”. The whole world is their playground and every minute is an opportunity for discovery. At what point did we, as adults, lose that? When did we stop getting excited about the world around us? When did we stop reveling in a new discovery, no matter how insignificant? When did we stop playing? When did we stop creating?

Yet again, I am learning from my children, rather than the other way around. Perhaps it is time to don my dirty old pink Jansport backpack from college and join in their game? I think I would make a pretty kick-ass secret agent.

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