Imagination Play and Children

I love the incredible imaginations of Children.  It is amazing to listen to little children and to watch them play. They are truthful in their responses to what they see and hear around them.  They take to prayer with ease because they haven’t the adult’s skepticism.  They are beautiful!

A good parent will encourage their children to use their imaginations.  We buy them toys that encourage the use of the imagination.  Pots and pans to pretend to cook, tools to pretend to build things, legos to build whole worlds of imagined spaces, dolls to pretend to be parents,  workbooks and chalk boards to pretend at being teachers, art supplies for pretending to be artists, dress-up clothing and hats to pretend other common roles of people in our society such as doctors, soldiers, dancers, and policemen, and dress up clothing for pretending to be characters from favorite stories.  We consider a good imagination to be something every child should develop.

My firstborn at mothers-day-out was not content merely to wear the costumes from the box.  This child insisted that the other children dress up too and would accessorize their outfits for them.

My second born once hid a note in an old candy tin and left it laying around.  I saw the tin while cleaning and checked it before I tossed it. Inside was a note, on the note a prayer, and the prayer was simply asking God for the grace to be a Saint.  I put the note back and left the tin where it was.

My youngest likes to change clothing over and over and over. In between, like many toddlers, this one likes to strip down to the diaper and run around the house that way or go the other extreme and wear several outfits layered one on top of the other.

Then I must admit to the outlandish imagination I had as a child.  I spent months wearing string halters and bridles on my head and running around pretending to be a horse thanks to a book I recall with fondness titled MY SISTER THE HORSE.  I also had a kitty cat dress up phase complete with a black leotard, tights and a tail because cats are simply amazing, and once spent months imagining what it might be like to live in a burrow like a prairie dog thanks to a book about Prairie dogs. My sister and I loved playing house and school.  My barbie ran the GI Joe spy center and sent Joe out on adventures; that same Barbie rode race horses, Olympic horses and wild horses during many hours of imagination play!

I liked dress up best and that motivated me to learn to sew which is a prime example of the purpose of playing dress up.  It helps children try on the roles of the adults in society to see how they feel.  It encourages children to connect with our broader society in ways that are easily accessible to them. In my case it moved me from pretending to be something to sewing outfits for my barbie, and then to sewing clothing for myself.  Stages of sewing as passages toward adulthood.

Children play dress up, and even adults have forms of dress up that many play.  Some children like to pretend they are horses, others pretend they are comic book heroes, princesses from movies, or adult roles they have observed. Over at A Woman’s Place, her little girls love princess dresses and one has a marvelous Nun dress she delights in wearing. It makes sense since their family is Catholic and the religious life is a role that is as normal a part of life for a Catholic as is a doctor or fireman.  Some anonymous person actually made a rude comment and criticized her mother for letting her have her dress up outfit and called it EXTREME.  That is what made me start thinking about imagination play and children.

Also, it made me wonder about that anonymous person.  In a world where adults go to Science Fiction or Anime conventions dressed up as their favorite characters, where others dress in period clothing and join in reenactments of historical battles, and others dress up in period clothing and join groups like the Society for Creative Anachronism, and where I saw at one Renn-Faire several women wandering around in chain mail bikinis with nothing underneath to protect them from sunburn or pinching from the rings, HOW COULD ANYONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND OBJECT TO A CHILD DRESSING UP AS A NUN?

Can we be more ridiculous?

Comments are closed.