The line between imagination and reality is quite blurry when children are young. Do they really know the difference? Kids will tell you a story of how something happened and it can be so far fetched but they seem to firmly believe that that was the way the event transpired. Even as adults we can have a hard time keeping the two separate. Look at what happens when you have a dream about someone and they do something that makes you angry in the dream. It can be very hard to shake the feeling of anger towards that person off when we wake up. It can easily color our interaction with them all day.
One morning back when Mariah was three years old I went to get her out of bed and I realized that she had wet the bed during the night. This was a very rare occurrence. I said to her, “Oh Mariah, it looks like you wet the bed.” Well before I could even take another breath this incredible story came pouring out of her mouth. “I didn’t wet the bed Mom, it was a little man that came in my window during the night. He was carrying a bucket of water and he spilled it on my bed.” I responded to her with “Really, a little man spilled his bucket of water!” whilst trying to hold back a smile. This prompted her to go into more detail since I clearly did not understand why he couldn’t manage to keep the water in his bucket. She proceeded to explain to me that he had pushed her window open, jumped down onto her bed from the window sill and was in quite a hurry. When he started to run across the bed he tripped on the folds in the blankets and spilled his bucket of water and then he ran away. I can still see her little face so vividly explaining to me every detail of what happened. The look in her eyes was so earnest while she was describing to me how the blankets get all lumpy during the night motioning with her hands to show how hilly they had become. It was all I could do to keep my composure while she related the whole tale to me. This was by far the most amusing story I had heard in a while. What was I to do? I answered her with “Well then I guess we better get these sheets off and put on some dry ones.”
Perhaps this was a story that came to her mind in order to cover over her embarrassment about wetting her bed . On the other hand she might have had a dream about this little man that had been prompted by her peeing in her sleep. At any rate the whole event seemed very real to her. I am sure that if I had tried to convince her that it had not really happened the way she told it I would have only frustrated her and never been able to get her to change her mind anyway.
For very young children the line between imagination and reality is blurry indeed. It is far more effective to chase the monsters out of a child’s bedroom at night than to try to explain to them that their are no monsters under their bed. The monsters are very REAL to them. A similar thing goes on when children play make believe. The toy cars and trucks are really driving. The little plastic horses and animals are truly running and jumping in their eyes. Imagination is an incredible gift that is strong in children. This type of imaginary play eventually comes to an end for most children as they grow up and some will come to mourn it’s passing. So, while it is a strong force in their lives, we should enjoy the magic of it as much as we can.
Do you remember any magical moments from yours or your kid’s childhood? I would love to hear about them!