A long time ago, back when I was harboring dream – which I still have to this day – of running my own freelancing business, I interviewed a respected University Lecturer and Author on this very subject, and drafted up a rather decent article about it. Sadly, no publications I approached were interested in it. (Oh how much I have learned since then.) So here it is in post form. Why? Because it is actually a topic I believe strongly in, and something that I have seen people getting annoyed about, and even taking medicinal steps to stop it.
I am a dreamer. I always have been and always will be. I find it all too easy to just drift off into a day-dream somewhere. I have always been like that. As long as I can remember at least. I used to sit on the bus to and from school for an hour each way. I would just stare out of the window and allow my mind to have fun, to just run wild and take me to exciting places.
When I was a young child, I had an imaginary dog… yes a dog. Bumpy I called him – clearly inspired by the legendary Noddy – and as I grew, Bumpy left me, but the power of dreams, never faded.
We live in a world were kids as young as 6 are expected to sit for exams every year, they are forced into becoming adults and even planning out their future careers at an age when you don’t even know half of the careers or avenues that are out there. I truly believe that we are becoming a society that is doing everything it can to stop children being children. Parents don’t let their kids play in the mud, climb trees or run around for fear of … an extra load of laundry, or a grazed knee. We are seeing more children with allergies and asthma, not because the world is becoming dirtier, but because homes are cleaner, parents disinfecting every surface five times a day. It is no wonder that these children are becoming sick. Not only is it good for a child to get out in the fresh air and roll around in the dirty, I honestly believe that it is healthy for them.
Yet, the point I find most startling, and the most damaging is the way we are limiting imagination. By smothering children and throwing them into the adult world before they are ready, we are ridding them of a very crucial part of development.
Children are better being told to day-dream for an hour a day than to have homework for an hour a day after school. They should be encouraged to fantasize and dream up imaginary friends and locations. It is healthy, it is important and at the end of the day it is fun.
I have heard and read stories of parents seeking medical help because their child has an imaginary friend, or is always off in a day-dream…. Hello!! they are children.
Just imagine living in a world where make-believe no longer exists. No more tea parties or crazy jungle adventures in the woods. Without imagination, would there still be dreams? The one place that even adults secretly enjoy escaping too. That last and only truly private place, where even the most serious and business minded of men can escape and live the life of a lost boy riding around Never-Never Land.
I can take it a step further even and say that with the state of the world as it is. A world filled were absent fathers and abuse borders on becoming the norm (and semi-accepted), what is wrong with a child making up their own heroes.
Superheroes and Comic book (or to be correct Graphic Novel) characters are more than just crime fighters, or people with magical powers. They stand for things on a deeper, yet often more simplistic level. A level that a lot of children see and take comfort in. To take that away from them and force them to face the harsh realities of the world and what it is becoming… to me, that is abuse.
Who cares if a child day dreams of being Superman, or sits on the sofa, or in the garden and just stares into space, enjoying the silent adventures his mind can create for him. It’s healthier than watching TV or playing video games all day long. I mean, what are video games and cartoons if not imagination replacements.
As a collective, parents are happy to sit their kids in front of the TV, or to let them play computer games all day long. Why? “Because it keeps them quiet” or even worse the old “Because the shows nowadays are educational and help their development.” To that I saw BULLSHIT. OK, maybe the cartoons are tilted towards education in some way, but nothing comes close to allowing a child to imagine things on their own. To play!
I say let a child have an imaginary friend, set a place for him / her at the dinner table, ask them questions, and get to know them. Join in when your son or daughter is running through the house on the back of a pony, or leaping tall buildings in a single bound. Why, because it is good for them, and it would be good for you too.