“Mom, you’re breaking my traction rod!” my 5 year-old son said to me as we walked (okay, more like I pulled him) through the crowd of people leaving a fireworks event on July 4th.
The folks nearby chuckled, but I’m sure they had no idea what he was talking about. But I did.
You see, my son is a train.
He loves trains. He plays with trains. He can tell you about the different types of trains that exist today as well as those from yesteryear, and he watches any movie or TV show that involves trains. He can also do various whistles and toots from different kinds of trains. He wants to be a train driver when he grows up, and in his imagination he IS a train.
He never walks or runs anywhere. He puffs and chuffs. In our house, when it’s bath time, that’s known as “going to the Steamworks,” where my kid gets a new, shiny coat of paint. His arms are traction rods. His feet are wheels. His legs are pistons. His nose is a funnel. His mouth is his whistle, and you don’t really want to know what his firebox is, but suffice it to say, when it gets “stuffed up,” that’s not a good thing.
I have been told before that I ought to be concerned about his train obsession. Someone once told me that it isn’t normal for him to imagine that he is a train so much of the time.
But I disagree. His imagination is part of who he is, and I won’t take that away.
I do believe that there is a time and a place for everything, and although he lives in his imagination 90% of the time, he does know how to function very well in normal society, so I encourage his imaginative play.
He comes by that imagination honestly. I have always had a vivid imagination, and I believe God gave it to me on purpose so that I might be able to use it for writing.
Imagination sparks curiosity, creativity and cleverness, and I want to inspire my son toward those qualities, among others, and not deter him from them.
In the movie ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,’ Willy Wonka addressed the beauty of the imagination in the song, Pure Imagination.
Life I know
To compare with
You’ll be free
If you truly wish to be
If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Want to change the world?
Our imagination is a gift from God, allowing us to believe that anything is possible. Add Faith to that imagination, and it is possible to truly change the world.
And at my son’s next t-ball game, when he’s “chuffing” around the bases and tooting his whistle, you’ll see me there in the stands. I’ll be the one cheering for my favorite little engine.
Share with me: What do you think about encouraging kids with imaginative behavior? Can imaginative play be a negative thing? What is your child’s favorite imaginary game? Did you have an imaginary friend or game when you were a kid?