The Imaginative Child
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
IN the present age the Imaginative Child has come into his own. Heretofore branded as the Liar, or with equal scorn, as the Dreamer, he has suffered for the cause of the Imagination a soap-washed mouth, beatings, scoldings, refusals to accept his word, supperless nights and stay-in-bed days. Occasionally he has retracted and accepted the creed of the Matter-of-Fact, but for the most part Imagination has lived under martyrdom, though secretly. The Imaginative Child of the past has dreamed dreams and built castles in Spain, but has not told about them.
The Imaginative Child of today occasionally possesses parents who worship the old god Real-ism. I overheard such a mother telling a friend on the train how she had at last discovered the root of John's tendency to lie. "I visited his kindergarten," she announced, "and there were the children seated on the floor in a circle, urged on by the kindergartner to make up stories, and my John was applauded because he told the biggest one." The confusion of entering passengers prevented my hearing the fate of poor little John, but I formed a mental picture of a wide-eyed child who had little to tell his own mother. For the Imaginative Child, like the Shy Child, easily becomes the Secretive Child, and, indeed, there is no one to whom he can confide all his dreams.
I know the mother of an Imaginative Child, on the other hand, who finds time to place an extra plate on the table for Charlie, his imaginary p y-mate, although there are five other childrên's plates to place. She is interested in Charlie's doings, moves aside to give him room on a seat, and recognizes readily that he must have a share in all the Imaginative Child's doings. She realizes that the Imaginative Child has a precious possession that will gild poor places for him all through his life and make him independent of surroundings. She knows that the Imaginative Child is a blessing not only to himself but to the world, for
"The dreamers are the doers,
She thinks that the Imaginative Child will be-come one who will be able to see the other person's point of view, and that, she knows, spells sympathy. She wonders if that were not the secret of the greatest Friend of man -- perfect understanding of another's nature and feeling, whether a poor sinner, or a rich ruler, or a little child. She proposes to foster and protect this priceless gift, so that the Imaginative Child shall not merely transform his own surroundings, but by projecting himself into others' lives, shall become a real friend.
The mother of the Imaginative Child understands that there are for him two grave dangers — that of mere dreaming, and of inaccuracy. So she sees to it that he does many practical thinks, and carries out his dreams. He is the prince of the fairy tale, but he carries real gifts to real people. He has a magical wand, and by its magic sticks of wood leap into a basket, and the articles in an untidy room fly to their rightful places. He has winged sandals, and they help him to do errands swiftly and happily.
That he may be saved the handicap of inaccuracy, she assists him in cultivating correct observation. He writes from memory lists of articles in shop windows, which she requires him to verify. She plays sense games with him, detecting single tastes and smells and sounds and objects from a mass. And, gradually, she helps him to distinguish between fact and fancy, but to find truth in both.
I was walking in the woods one day with the Imaginative Child at the age when fancy is apt to be trampled under by fact. He laughed at my tale of dryads, and I at once said that the penalty of laughter was the inability to see a dryad. So I reported what I saw peeping from the oaks we passed, and he seemed quite piqued that his eyes were closed. Then, fearing I was overdoing the matter, I said, "You don't really believe all this?" and he answered in a whisper, "Sh! no; but let's keep right on."
Yes, Imaginative Child, we'll keep right on, and be thankful that we can, and we will never let you lose your gift!