If a MASSIVE tidal wave surged DEEP inland and miraculously lapped across Bellevue, Washington, taking all the baby dolls along the west coast out to sea with its exit, my two youngest girls and their powerful imaginations would still find a way to play “babies”. They might mother a couple of large rocks or maybe a few baby-sized logs. However strange and awkward it might end up looking, they’d press right on with their imaginary play and they likely wouldn’t miss a beat.
These precious girls have an astounding stamina for playing “family”, in particular. Each day begins with a continuation of the previous day’s charade. Sometimes they'll round up all the baby dolls in the house (we have A LOT of them), and they’ll begin mothering the whole heap.
There are times where, instead of dragging all the babies out from under our numerous beds, they personally assume the roles of mother and baby. Sometimes an auntie or a grandma is introduced. I’m usually given the title of grandma. I’m a rather resistant, rebellious, UNenthusiastic grandma; clinging to my youth! My girls will chatter out a script as they play. Usually, Nyla (my 2 year old) suggests wonderful ideas that are shot down and quickly rescripted by my, almost 6 year old daughter, Sofia. A YES/NO yelling match then breaks out and sometimes they go to blows over which baby is whose daughter and who’s actually an auntie and not a mommy. In person, these Smith family brawls are a lot like punishment, but recounting them is a whole lot of fun.
As kids, my sister and I had really impressive imaginations too. On family road trips we’d occasionally entertain ourselves by (each of us) scooping up the lower half of one of our legs. We’d cradle the knee in one arm with the ankle in the other. It was remarkable really, how that lower leg made the perfect ‘insta-baby’. We could even rock that little baby-leg to sleep. I know, I know, it sounds clinically insane...I guess it sorta is. Maybe now, as you’re reading this, you’re beginning to rest back in your seat, starting to feel a bit disturbed; subconsciously trying to place some distance between you and this blog post. But don’t you dare judge! You know, you were a weird little kid too!! We all were!
My sister and I had a rare and valuable ability to imagine anything into being! All of our Barbie furniture was sculpted and whittled out of hand towels and washrags. It sounds pathetic, but honestly we were completely happy with our terrycloth-laden Barbie decor. We never felt deprived until we visited that one kid’s house. We all know the kid, she was an “only child”. She embodied all that those quotation marks imply. She had more Barbies then a whole neighborhood of average, multi-kid families put together. This girl had the Barbie mansion and the pool, plus all the miniature matching furniture. She was also the kid who didn’t want anyone to adjust the positions of any of her things. Plus, we were forced to play with only one of her Barbies; the one she loved the least. That was probably around the time that I discovered that disgusting and thieving emotion; envy...laced with disdain. Ick!
All Envy aside, kids dream SO BIG! There are no limits or concerns for the absurdity of the thing. Kids never suggest to one another that they’re shooting too low by admiring the trash collector or the neighborhood gardener. They don’t ever poo-poo each other’s dreams by implying that when firefighters have to wait around for something to catch fire it can be pretty boring. They never tell each other to rethink that police idea because it's too dangerous, or that teaching and mothering pay very poorly. Kid dreams are fun and they inspire more dreams!
No little kid ever flops down in the grass, starring at the clouds, fantasizing about cubicle life! At least I don't think so...
My dream was to be an astronaut. Not even that ‘90’s movie, Apollo 13, and its depiction of the 1970 space disaster, was enough to dissuade me from my plan. For me, space was everything! I used to proclaim that I’d be the first female to walk on Mars. Like many kids, I transformed my bedroom ceiling into a glow-in-the-dark star filled sky. I didn’t realize, back then, that the job requires major math skills. I (very sadly) have none! So, upon learning the truth, I tearfully kissed Mars goodbye and sought out dream number 2 and then 3 and 4 and so on. You get the idea. For each season, a new dream was born.
Weeding through those myriad of dreams to find the one was important, but somewhere along the way I stopped dreaming BIG astronaut sized dreams. With each year my dreams got slightly smaller and easier to attain; more realistic, safer I guess. I’d grown bigger, and so had my fear. My fear of failure and my fear of rejection were larger motivators than the possibility of my dreams coming to life.
Why do we grow up and leave the big dreams and big dreaming behind?? Why does "growing up" have to mean that ‘big dreams’ equal ‘stupid dreams’? And when did we stop going to blows and engaging in YES/NO yelling matches over the script?? I’m not advocating violence or terrible communication, but maybe I (we) shouldn’t have been so quick to release those pure, beautiful dreams, imagining (naively) that they’d find their way back to us if they were truly meant to be ours (who really believes that steaming pile of wisdom anyway??).
I’m 100% certain that I was never truly meant for space. But I can’t help but think that there have been plenty of other dreams along the way that might have fit, but I (possibly) shrugged them off a touch too fast, discrediting my abilities or intellect or maybe I gave too much weight and power to the dissenting voices.
This is what I've come to believe. In spite of what life looks like right now (my life included), I believe we’re ALL meant for something amazing; something grander than today. Maybe it’s just over the next horizon. I know you feel it. I feel it too! Sometimes the path looks dismal, but I know that deep down you sense something magnificent is coming. It’s coming for YOU! Dream BIG again. Let yourself dream big and wide and unrestrained. Awaken the 'little kid' you; the girl or boy who didn’t care what anyone said when you declared your BIG dream with pride!
Writer and fellow traveler on the road of life.