On Childhood and the Imagination

I don’t write about my children as much as I should. Between being a husband and father, running a small business, preparing for gaming, gaming, and writing about gaming, there’s, not surprisingly, very little time left.

One Friday, early this past June, was my oldest daughter’s last day at the preschool she’d been attending for the past two years. As we walked our familiar walk along Waverly Avenue — this last time with my wife and youngest daughter in tow — we explained that the block before school, the one with the tall trees lining both sides of the street, was “The Forest”.

What looks like a typical Brooklyn street is actually a magical forest

To the untrained eye, The Forest is not so different from other blocks in this part of Brooklyn. There are brownstones in various states of repair on both sides of the street. There’s a church that provides charity to the homeless on one end and a rehabilitation center complete with methadone clinic on the other.

To the trained and imaginative eye, though, there’s much more to be seen. On the left side of the street, there’s a deep, dark cave complete with a GIGANTIC black bear and a ghost that frequently haunts the empty lot next to my daughter’s school. There’s a unicorn and a puppy that takes baths before and after playing in the mud, and, most importantly, there’s Jackson — a purple water dragon who began his life as a tiny giraffe until he met my old friend Choopachumbra who just happens to be a friendly, green dragon who protects little children. See, I told you. There’s much more to be seen.

I have been amazed by my oldest daughter’s imagination ever since she’s been able to verbalize it. Experiencing it in this form from the perspective of a small child gives me insight into where all of our imaginations originate — and just how formative and foundationally important imagination is to us all.

I encourage my daughter to explore her imagination whenever I can, and I’ll continue to do so for as long as I’m around — well into her adulthood, for sure, when we all have a tendency to stop imagining. Hopefully, she’ll be able to take a page out of her old man’s book and find a way, through art or gaming or music or just plain daydreaming, to keep imagining no matter how old she is.

We should all do the same. I believe exploring our own imaginations is vital as we grow older. I believe it connects us to our purer selves. The selves evident in the wonder of a small child as she does something as seemingly mundane as walking down the same street to spend her day at the same school just as she has done for half her life.