Here be Dragons: Supporting Your Child’s Capacity for Imagination
Like most little girls, Piper decided last weekend that she wanted to be a princess. She just got done watching a movie and was inspired by the heroine—a princess any parent knows all too well. As soon as the movie finished, she ran straight to her room and reappeared 10 minutes later dressed head to toe in princess garb.
I decided to play along. She’s a princess in my mind—why not let her play the part? I asked what her first royal decree was and without any hesitation she told me I needed to fight a dragon. Rough luck. I haven’t had a lot of training for something like that.
Regardless, I told her I was off on my quest to fight a dragon and left the room. I found a dragon plush in her play room and made raucous commotion, eventually walking back into the living room holding the dragon by the tail. Laying it at her feet, I proclaimed by allegiance.
She was less than impressed.
“That’s not how you fight a dragon!” she said, and proceeded to tell me all about how there was no fire breath or suit of armor. I had failed.
Cut to the next day.
Not to be made a fool of by a plush dragon, I decided to build a beast worth fighting while Piper was at school. I found a small smoke machine in the garage (from last Halloween), along with a few old cardboard boxes. An hour of arts and crafts and I had a suit of armor (not a practical one). I mounted the dragon on top of our entertainment center with the smoke machine just out of sight. The stage was set.
After we got home from school, I waited for her to go into the living room. I quickly put on my suit of armor and ran into the room yelling, “princess Piper, watch out! A mighty dragon!” Cue the smoke machine and the battle was on. I poked at the dragon with a broom and hit the smoke machine for effect a few times, putting my acting chops to work.
Eventually, I tapped the dragon off the entertainment center, picked it up by the tail and laid it at her feet ceremoniously. This time, the princess was pleased. I don’t want to brag, but I was knighted. No big deal.
When it comes to my daughter’s imagination, I always want to be her champion. Whatever it takes to keep her imagination active and engaged, I want to do it for her. Even if that means slaying dragons.