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#66 Family Matters - Imagine

In These Times by Dr. Jody Kussin May 19, 2020

“Imagine all the people….”

Imagination is the ability to produce and simulate novel objects, peoples and ideas in the mind without any immediate input of the senses. It all starts in infancy (or maybe in the womb) and can include dreams, thoughts, and wonder. All it requires is ‘time, doing nothing.’ It happens when you leave the baby in the crib in the morning and can hear him or her cooing and babbling and later, looking up and reaching for the mobile overhead. It happens when the toddler is sitting with dolls and trucks and s/he starts making a story out of them, moving them here or there, giving words to their actions.

Story telling is a major part of imagination. Thinking is too, as is contemplation and dreaming. Drama, acting, painting, art of any kind - - - it is an internal process that sometimes has an external presence and sometimes does not. Our authors engage in lots of it, as do our musicians and artists and our engineers of all kinds.

Although we have TONS of ‘free time’ these days, in some ways, we are still scheduling ourselves (to keep sane) and still keeping our kids ‘busy’ (to keep sane.) And now, summer time is headed our way – officially it starts June 21 (or 20?) and unofficially it starts Memorial Day weekend and in these times, it started when we first put on our shorts and flip flops and made Hawaii our backdrop on Zoom work calls.

We have been good about so many things – cooking and baking with kids, gardening with kids, walking and biking with kids. We have implemented game nights (in person and on the world wide web) and have been practicing loving acts of kindness – helping neighbors, painting rocks and distributing them, playing concerts for grandma.

What we have surprisingly lost, however, is the art of imagination and wonder. So, as summer takes over, let’s remember to PRETEND. Let’s set up some leisure time where children take the lead, and where it is unstructured and screenless. It seems contradictory to schedule leisure; especially given how much time we’ve been in our houses but….it must be done! Trust me!

Imaginative play is when we are role playing and are acting out various experiences we may have had or something that is of some interest to us that we have never personally experienced. When children do it, they are experimenting with decision making on how to behave and are also practicing their social skills. Social development. When children engage in pretend play, they're actively experimenting with the social roles of life. Sometimes they are babbling and sometimes they are coherent. They are emoting – putting their feelings out into the world, without necessarily labeling the feelings and affect.

When our children engage in pretend (or dramatic) play, they actively experiment with the social and emotional roles of life. ... When they pretend to be different characters, they have the experience of "walking in someone else's shoes," which helps teach the important skill of empathy.

The ability to imagine things pervades our entire existence. It influences everything we do, think about and create. It leads to elaborate theories, dreams and inventions in any profession from the realms of academia to engineering and the arts.

Let’s think about leisure in a few ways, and ensure we have it for ourselves, for our children as a unit, for us as couples, and for each child. We need to set it up – find the time, mark it and put it aside, and then establish the space. For younger children, be sure to rotate access to various props – stuffed animals, blocks, vehicles, puppets, arts and crafts materials they can use on their own, etc. For older children, include Legos and other more sophisticated building materials, as well as ‘younger kid’ stuff like the aforementioned puppets. For teens, access to supplies for making videos, writing songs, making mash ups of songs and movies - - - electronics, jewelry making, mask making….

So, let’s get a huge poster board or white board and title it MY BIG IDEAS – and have each family member jot down one big idea per day (or week.) And then talk about them. They should be HUGE ideas. That generate creative conversations and questions. My first one is: All freshmen not able to move into their dorms and take classes in person come Fall 2020 should be offered the option of a YEAR OF SOCIAL SERVICE….I’m happy to help organize it. I just need someone ‘high up’ to drop by my house and look at my big board of big ideas.

What’s your idea? What about your child’s?

A child in my life said her big idea is: SWIMMING POOLS FOR EVERY YARD – could be little blow up ones, or hot tubs that are used as pools, or big in ground pools – but -every house needs one this summer. Another told me, “My big idea is for us to really take the homeless off the streets near our underpasses (in the valley) and house them in the hotels, which are mostly empty. And make sure they can stay there a long time because just a few weeks won’t help them.” This from an 11-year old.

Yup, let’s use our imaginations and play and pretend and wander through the wonder.

You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will be as one

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