‘I told my teacher I need to leave early on Wednesdays now, so I can get to my Bhangra class on time’, Bean pipes up as we walk home from school. My bemused response of, ‘But Bean, you don’t go to a Bhangra class?’ was quashed with a self-assured, ‘I know I don’t go to one YET. But I WANT to go to one and my teacher said I just need to remind her next week’.
So that’s it, a done deal. Next Wednesday I shall be leaving work early to take my four year old daughter to a fictitious Bhangra class.
This approach in many ways is admirable; I think it, therefore it will be. No barriers, no uncertainty and total unwavering self-belief. It leads me to question whether the focus of my pondering as we walked home that all four year old children are clearly bonkers should actually have had a strong leaning towards championing the true genius of these little people.
I passed my driving test having repeatedly muttered to myself, ‘It will be okay. I have never met this person before, they have no idea what an awful driver I am’, before the test. The shock on my driving instructor’s face told me I was right to have questioned my (in)ability, but the bottom line was I had proved I could do it. The ability was there, it was my prior belief that had not been.
When do we lose our self-assurance that things we want will just be?
When do the lines between everyday life and make-believe stop being blurred?
It is these blurred lines that frequently provide the magic of a young child’s imagination. They do not believe they are imagining; they just believe. They did not possibly hear their toy dinosaur roar when they were in bed last night, they definitely heard it. They do not doubt they will simultaneously be an astronaut and a milk-maid when they grow up, they know they will be. Minor details like appropriate habitat for the accompanying cow, ‘Space Moo’, are easily solved by planting ‘A field on the moon’. It doesn’t matter that, aside from anything else, there will be no one to sell the milk to because ‘It will all be so much fun!’.
This inability to differentiate between the real world and everything else is what makes reading stories with a child so great. It is what makes them believe the International Space Station is Santa Claus pulled by reindeer in his sleigh. It is the reason I watched a lengthy puppet show of dubious substance but abundant enthusiasm yesterday. It is what makes you question your own sanity if you spend too long with a young child.
Clearly, we cannot all go about our lives with unwavering self-assured belief in fiction. But I am sure just a little more of the ‘I think and so I am’ attitude of a young child would serve some of us well as adults.
I really hope Bean holds on to every bit of her refreshing childhood shade of crazy for just a little while longer. And I hope the smallest amount of it rubs off on me.