Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Are imaginations imaginary in 2010?

My 3yr old has really taken off with his imagination lately! He runs around the house pretending to be a Jedi. He'll even sit in his room for an hour making his Star Wars figures converse with his Rescue Heroes about the safety of the galaxy! And the stories he tells are priceless!

The thing he does that has really brought me to blog is his recent affinity for hangers- er, bows and arrows. For the last week or so he has been running about with a plastic hanger in one hand and a wooden spoon or any other long object in the other hand ready to be used as a bow. And for the last few days I have been telling my husband that we need to go to the dollar store and get him a little bow and arrow set. But today I was watching him again with his hanger, proudly running about and declaring that he found his bow, it occurred to me that he doesn't need for us to run out and but him anything. To him, that hanger and spoon ARE his bow and arrow.

Now this got my little brain going. About consumerism, capitalism, marketing ploys, and mostly how we got to a place as a nation that our kids don't need their own imaginations to play. When I was a kid my sisters and I ran about with sticks pretending to be Charlie's Angels. We opened stores in our rooms and grocery shopped for imaginary items. We played mermaid by diving under our beds and "swimming" out the other side. In my memory we were really gun toting crime fighters, store clerks, and mermaids. This despite the fact that we didn't have plastic guns, play food for our store, or mermaid costumes.

So when did we get to a point where anything that can be imagined can also be purchased? When did an Ipad become more fun than a mud puddle? When did climbing levels on your video games become a preference over climbing trees? At what point do our kids stop seeing a bow and arrow and start seeing a hanger and wooden spoon? I'm going to refrain from rushing to the dollar store for that bow and arrow set and let my little boy run amok with his hanger. I'll turn the giant box we just got the baby's bassinet in into a fort for him. And I will continue to encourage him to be outside every chance he gets! He will build up an incredible imagination (just like the old days) and it won't cost me a penny!

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