Sometimes you’ve got to have a little imagination to get you through the trenches of motherhood. You’ve also got to enjoy the imagination your kids are naturally full of. There’s nothing that brightens a dreary morning like walking in on your three-year-old daughter after the breakfast chaos to find her in the midst of a serious acting session. Her fork has become a beautiful princess and her last bite of pancakes is an evil monster. Melts my heart every time.
My Dad has quite an imagination, and I’m so glad he’s passed part of it off to me and my kids. Growing up we spent countless hot summer nights in a rustic little cabin at a gorgeous place called Bear Lake. My brothers and sisters and I would be lying on our nifty fold-out-from-the-wall-hand-crafted-by-my-dad beds on top of our foam mats. We would be hot…our faces beet red from a day at the beach with no sun screen and we’d be worn out from our “summer job” of carrying rocks up from the beach to line our rustic front patio. We’d lay still, in hopes that the whir of the big fan in the window would reach us and cool us down.
But it wasn’t the heat we were thinking about. It was what sort of imaginative and crazy story my Dad would come up with to tell us that night. He’d sit in the red chair in the corner and spill out the most glorious tales full of all kinds of adventure. There was this boy named after a combination of all my brother’s names who would save the world all the time. There were adventures of another family that looked just like us in “Mirror Land.” Always so creative and chock full of stuff to keep us hooked. My dad would get to the most intense part of the story and then he’d say…”to be continued tomorrow.” Oh how I hated those stories to end.
Part of our wonder with them was that my Dad is the greatest story-teller of all time. Part was the fact that we got to stay up a little longer to hear the adventures. But mostly I think we liked to hear the smooth, deep velvety sound of our Dad’s voice so close to us as we went to sleep.
Growing up we’d also have really interesting “characters” who would sometimes visit to tuck us in bed at night. They mysteriously reminded us of our Dad, but they dressed in crazy outfits and their names were things like “Horsey Lorsey,” “Monster Man,” and “Serapoo.” They lived at the North Pole with Santa Claus, but they’d kindly come visit us all year long and didn’t limit their magic to the Christmas season.
Inspired by my imaginative Dad, our family also has some friends in Mirror Land.
In this land, there’s this family called the “Spunks.” They are exactly like us. A mom, a dad, one boy and four crazy girls. The weird thing is that not only is this family just like ours on paper, but they look exactly like us too. We can see the Spunks any time we want…just by looking in the mirror. It’s amazing. And when we’re peeking in on them, they copy everything we do. It’s completely magic!
There are just a few small differences between our family and theirs. First, instead of their names being Max, Elle, Grace, Claire & Lucy, they are called Hunk, Flower, Sparkle, Butterfly and Chub-e-rooster (please note that I had no say over the names). Oh, and their Dad’s name is Grump-apotomus (self-named), and their Mom’s name is Pixie (her dad gave her that one when she was their age).
The other difference is that in Mirror Land, the family just like ours works together perfectly. When their mom asks them to do their jobs, within minutes, Voila! They’re done. They don’t have any fighting, and they’re always kind to each other.
I know it’s almost impossible to comprehend (ha ha), but our family here in the real world doesn’t always work like that! The kids have been forgetting to make their beds in the morning. They’ve been throwing clothes on the floor when they change. They’ve been leaving scraps of drawings and crayons all over the place. So the other night after Grace and Claire had to miss out on story time before bed because their room was so messy that we had to spend our reading time picking things up instead of snuggling together reading a book, I let them in on some very important details about their mirror twins Sparkle and Butterfly. Because, as chance would have it, they had the same issue a while ago. But they learned their lesson and now their room is always clean. Those mirror girls realized that it was so much easier to just put their clothes away or in the hamper right when they took them off rather than letting things pile up making a bigger mess to clean up. And now they’re always happy because they get to play with friends after school and every night they get to have story time since they keep their room so darn spic and span.
And guess what? The magic transferred from Mirror Land into our land! The last few days Grace and Claire’s room has been spotless when Grace leaves for school. And do you know what else? It’s always spotless at night too so we can have a long story time just like Sparkle and Butterfly do.
We’ll see how long this lasts, but for now boy oh boy, I love those good examples in Mirror Land.
If we remember to let some imagination in every once in a while, motherhood is just more fun. Who knows, if we get really good at it, we may be able to even imagine that those dark trenches transform into walls of flowers!
QUESTION: What are some of the fun, imaginative things you do with your kids?
CHALLENGE: Come up with some cute and imaginative things for you and your kids to do together. Share your secrets here!