As a child, I can remember playing games that hinged on imagination. My neighborhood was new with the construction of houses going on all around me. They always had large loads of dirt that my friends and I would go to and play war. After the work crews were gone, I would meet up with at least 3 other boys and select my machine gun (a stick) and my grenades (dirt clods) and prepare for a battle. We only had 3 rules. 1. Everyone had to pretend to get shot, but you could come back to life. However, you had to be convincingly killed…dramatic. 2. Dirt clods had to be lobbed over so they would land and “explode” near the enemy. Also lobbing meant it would hurt less than throwing straight at someone’s head. 3. No rocks!
We would absolutely get lost in this world of low/no tech. We would make-believe and used our imaginations. It was the greatest. This is regardless of the subject matter (war) being the best topic or not. To my embarrassment, I had one other imagination game that I played regularly. This was for the evening after supper, or if I could go outside due to whatever reason. I was a music fanatic since I can remember. However, when I was 9, I lived across the street from a boy that had Kiss, Ted Nugent, and Aerosmith records. He would let me borrow them.
Okay, remember when I said the word embarrassing? It was only embarrassing if someone walked in. I had a large dresser with a large mirror. I would get my favorite guitar (tennis racket) and would perform a concert for a crowd that was not there. I was completely mesmerized and lost inside my head. Everyone (that wasn’t there) loved me and would cheer. I would watch myself play that “guitar” like no one else ever could. I did not need anyone with me. I’m talking about doing this for hours. When I discovered live concert albums, I would perform the whole concert, knowing every song by heart.
Was this a waste of time? Was this isolation? I guess it could be if the concert never ended. I didn’t think it was. My imagination games were awesome. I think kids need to be able to express themselves through imagination. I think this is fuel for the creative fire. My oldest son was the same way. He started out in his bouncy seat and would listen and “dance/mosh” to rock CDs in their entirety. Yes before he could talk or walk he was addicted. He began to perform his own “concerts”. It was funny and dorky looking, but I remembered how cool it was for me when he was for me. On occasion, I would go into his room, pick up my imaginary guitar and we would headbang together.
He ended up picking up the bass guitar when he was 10 years old and ultimately became one of the best bassists I have ever heard. He still plays today as a 28-year-old. I love seeing his creativity in full bloom. When I see him, many times we will crank up the car stereo and Wayne’s World headbang together for fun.
Dad’s, encourage your child’s imagination. This will bloom into dreams that are awesome. Encourage their creative activities, whether it be physical or mental. I have found that develops a passion. When kids get a passion, it helps sell your encouragement to give all they are to a task. The speeches of never give up, you can do it, and go for it will stick in their heads. If you encourage that expression and creativity it will make them healthier kids. They will feel believed in and know a world without limits.
Dad’s, share your dreams, thoughts, and feelings with your kids. Ask them what they think or how they could contribute to your ideas. I do this today a lot with my daughter. She gives me ideas about my articles, artwork, artwork. I love having her as a resource. She is so smart. This relationship also allows us to debate issues with each other. We know that we can disagree or have different views. However, it all comes back to love and support of each other.
Challenge your kids to use their imaginations. Have fun with them. Play with them. This will develop into a very healthy side of your relationship for years to come. It’s awesome. I cannot wait to be a grandfather…excuse me Granddad…lol. I want to hold, love, play with, and encourage them. This is a life worth living my brothers. It is the richest that you will ever be in your life. Your hobbies, money, travels, and man toys will never compare. Give all you are. Give your best. Be the best dad possible.