Yesterday was a day of imagination for the Berg family. After breakfast my wife and I took our crew to a great local play place. It’s a combination coffee house/miniature replica of the city. There’s a miniature bank, barbershop, music store, restaurant, grocery store, etc. There are plenty of dress-up cloths and other imagination amenities like play money, play food, play shavers and blow driers, little instruments, and toy cars. The kids love it. They run around enthusiastically pretending for a couple of hours while we try to keep up and join in where we can.
Next we headed home because the little ones needed food and naps. The big guys and me left them to it and headed back out again. We met up with our cousins at the Detroit Institute of Art (DIA). You might not think that an expansive fine art museum would be a good place for a five-year-old and a three-year-old to enjoy an afternoon adventure, but it is.
The first thing we ran into after spending some time enjoying the gigantic stairways was a huge marble corridor filled with ancient swords and knights’ armor. We needn’t have gone any further. Talk about bright eyed and bushy tailed! But further we did go. We saw mummies, statues, and paintings. We joyfully ran from room to room through humongous columns. Our imaginations were in full effect.
As if that wasn’t enough we stumbled upon a theater where a puppet show was about to begin. We found our seats and stared at the stage for the next hour or so. This was no ordinary puppet show. This was the real deal. I was amazed. They were amazed. We couldn’t take our eyes off of it. It was a troop out of Chicago. I use the word troop because that’s what they said, but it was two guys. One played the guitar and sang the story while the other masterfully anthropomorphized a range of wooden characters from Giants to birds. The puppets varied in size from ones that needed to be carried to ones that needed to be worn. It was phenomenal.
The story was great too. This giant wanted to preserve his beautiful garden. In an effort to do so he made it into a “kid free zone” with a big wall and a sign. What he didn’t realize was that doing so caused it to be cold and dark, like his heart was with that restriction in mind. When the wall that he built cracked even a little bit and children were once again able to slip into the garden for play and pretend, all of the flowers and the peach trees began to blossom again. In the end the giant was able to see the big picture. He realized that the joyful and imaginative play of children is actually propellant of growth, and not a destroyer of gardens. I think it was based on an Oscar Wilde story.
Later, after considerably too much chocolate milk and far too many skittles (don’t tell my wife), the boys were on hyper drive. Still in the museum, their imaginations were running wild (along with their bodies). When I was finally able to wrangle the three-year-old I said, “Oh boy, Bubba…I think you’re still in La La Land.” On the drive home my five-year-old asked, “Is La La Land a real place.” This kid comes up with some great questions. They all do.
I told him it is. We talked about imagination, possibilities, and potential (in a little kid type of way). I hope that my kids never lose their incredible access to, love for, and faith in imagination. I hope that I never think it wise to distance myself from that energy in an effort to preserve a garden, keep a living room tidy, or diminish the volume in my now bustling home.
Yesterday I was reminded with great clarity that imagination is the thing that drives progress, that pretend play is holistically joyful and productive, and that La La Land is a great place to spend time having fun, learning, and growing.
Live. Learn. Lead.
Dream Big. Work Hard. Be Well.