The Imagination Station

Today I’m going to talk about one of my absolute favourite parts of being a Dad.  It’s when the Parenthood Express makes one of it’s many, many, many stops at The Imagination Station.

In my last post I talked about our capacity to dream big.  Dreaming and The Imagination Station are so closely connected that they are almost one and the same.  Almost but not quite.

Having big dreams and ideas is one thing.  To be able to jump in and live in that dream or idea is quite another.

I’ve always been creative in a weird kind of way, able to bounce between serious and total lunacy at a moment’s notice.  Ask my wife if you doubt it.  She’ll probably roll her eyes and mutter something under her breath about living in a Mental Asylum some days.  Or something to that effect.

So when Jono burst onto the scene it opened up whole new avenues to explore magical worlds of make-believe.  Yay!  It seems that some of my crazy has rubbed off on him, because his capacity to flick in and out of reality rivals my own.  And he only has 5 years of experience under his belt versus my thirty-something…

I mentioned his list of career choices last time we were here:

when i grow up
Some of this is pretty grounded. You actually do need to be a Super Rich Millionaire on Fridays to be Batman on Sundays.  The facts don’t lie.

Personally I’d settle for any of the career choices he’s selected – every one of them has it’s own merits.  To the imaginative dreamer though there is no need to settle on just one is there?  Somebody is going to need to talk to the New Zealand Rugby Union about their schedule though because Jono is only available in Tuesday Tests going forward.  I mean it didn’t hold Michael Jones back too badly did it?

So why do I love going to The Imagination Station with Jono so much?  It’s invigorating.  It’s fun.  It’s a shared experience that nobody else “gets”.  Nor are they supposed to.

Just watching children play with their toys is a magical thing.  Jono is a bit of a Lego fiend.  It helps that Daddy loves it too.  Possibly more than him (but that’s one of the reasons you have kids right, for the toys!).  The cool thing is that it’s such a versatile toy.  It can be used for the mundane, but still a little wacky:

When you gotta go.jpg
Where else will you find a jet-ski rider, construction worker, firemen, a little girl, Sinestro (from Green Lantern) and an Astronaut lining up for the port-a-loo? 

Right through to the downright ludicrous:

Batman Stolen Car
Batman knew deep down inside that it was his own fault.  He’d rolled the dice one time too many parking the Batmobile in Henderson.  He wasn’t mad, just disappointed…

So yesterday when I walked into the lounge to observe Batman and Captain America stealing treasure from a Pirate Ship and making off in a hot air balloon while Beast Boy rode a jetski and Black Panther’s jet lay blasted into a million pieces (literally) I didn’t think anything of it.  Just another day in Jono’s world.

Our capers aren’t limited to Lego at home though.

A trip to the mall usually involves dodging/jumping over hot lava in varying quantities.

One-on-one rugby training drills tend to find me asking Jono to do his “reflection running” (you know how when the Flash runs and leaves a speed blur behind him… Yeah, that).

Supermarket trips end up with the two of us yahooing like lunatics on some mission or another.

In fact every errand is currently “Going on a Batman mission with Daddy“.

Do people look on, many with disproving looks on their faces, as we go about our business?  Absolutely.  

Do I care about what other people think when Jono and I head off into our own little world?  Hell no!

Because therein lies half the problem with our society these days.  We’ve lost the ability to make our own fun.  To play games in public.  To be spontaneous, loud and happy.  We tend to worry too much about what somebody else might think.  About how it looks.  We don’t want to be the weird one doing strange things.  So we stay on the train when it pulls into the Imagination Station and keep reading our book/kindle/newspaper/blog.  We stay firmly inside our shells.

The tragedy in this is that little-by-little, piece-by-piece this tears down the pre-fabricated Imagination Station that every one of our children possesses.  It’s almost as if the The NeverEnding Story was a documentary.  Which I think is more than a little scary.

Children are meant to be encouraged to have lively, agile and fertile imaginations.  They are not meant to be miniature adults.  In fact I’d contend that we’d all be better off if adults were more like over-sized children.

It’s not even that hard.  The great thing is that if they haven’t already lost the ability to imagine, most children just need a small prompt to get going.  Then they do most of the heavy lifting.

But if you want to be rewarded with hours of fun, make a little effort once in a while.  Pitch the tent in the front yard and go “camping”.  Or in the spare room.

Weather outside too nasty for camping? Pitch the tent in the spacr room and camp there instead!

Make up a fun story about a mundane object – make it magical or cool.  The leaves that fall off the cabbage tree in front of our house have been “Batarangs” for the last couple of years and we fight Baddie Guys as Hulk, Thor or Wolverine with them.  Don’t ask me why the Marvel and DC Universes keep crossing over.  They just do.

So forget what anybody else thinks. Do weird things at home, in public, wherever.  Have some fun with a little person that doesn’t know any other way!

Batman Time Out.jpg
Fighting crime all day is thirsty work!  Even Batman needs to take some time out once in a while…

Get back on board that Parenthood Express and don’t get off until you see Batman, Fairies, Dragons and probably some Lava.

Stay a while.



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