Too Old for Make Believe

alone-on-the-playground

She wouldn’t play with me. She is too mature to play make believe, to pretend they are real. I sit on the edge. They call to me, waiting to go spinning off into an adventure. I glance over at her. She sits there fiddling with her phone. Ever since she turned twelve and received her first cellphone, her world has been consumed by social media and texting. She no longer has “the time” to play imaginary games with her sister. She is too grown up for that, she says. Yet I know she really only feels that way because her friends tell her make believe is for children. Imagination is lame. You must conform and let gossip dominate your thoughts in order to be cool.

Just three months ago, she sat on Tigger to spin into an adventure with Frog and me.

The world turns into a blur of bright colors as we are transported to a place without pain, without popularity contests, without yelling parents. We land on top of a rainbow. We stand and brush off puffs of white cloud. Below us lies a land of joy. Laughing, we take turns sliding down the rainbow. I feel the wind teasing my hair and giggling in my ear. The rainbow gently deposits us on a path of bouncy gumdrops. Surrounding the path is a field full of every sort of flower I can imagine. Pony skips down the path ahead of us, pausing now and then to pick a flower. Pooh totters along holding my hand with his sticky paw. We skip and sing songs full of nonsensical syllables and silly sounds. We arrive in front of a towering forest of lollipops. Giraffe gallops ahead, her long legs flying every which way. Running after her, we race through the forest until we reach an oasis of crystal clear water. Little fairies flit in and out of the cascading waterfalls. Mermaids lounge on the rocks sunning their tails. Dolphins poke their heads out of the water to smile at us. We look at each other, lock hands, and jump. The cool water embraces us and her hand squeezes mine. We surface to our friends surrounding us. Frog grabs my hand and Tigger grabs hers. A circle is formed, a circle of warmth and security. We spin and spin and spin. I hear her laughter, feel her joy, and bask in her love.

My eyes open. I glance over to see her fingers flying. Her black-lined eyes glance over at me. Regret shows its face, quickly masked by aloofness and withdrawel. I look down to hide the disappointment welling in my eyes. She stands up and slips inside. I see her switch on the TV and pull out crimson nail polish. A tear drips slowly down Tigger’s face as he mourns the loss of his friend. I lean into Frog, holding tight onto my childhood.

While this post is not even close to the 1000 words asked for by the Weekly Writing Challenge, it just felt complete. The above photograph taken by Michelle Weber reminded me of a time in my life when I stopped playing imaginary games with my younger sister. I tried to imagine how my sister felt when I grew disinterested in playing with our dolls and stuffed animals. While we did not have smart phones or social media then, I still got sucked into a world of 4H and riding, reading books, and going to see movies or shop at the mall with my friends. I remember being in middle school, sitting on my floor holding Molly (my American Girl doll), and trying to grasp onto that make believe world again. Maybe I didn’t try hard enough or maybe you just grow out of it. I don’t know. I often wonder what went through my sister’s head when I grew out of that stage of my life. Did my leaving the world of imagination cause her to leave it earlier than necessary? I sure hope not because imaginary worlds are just so wonderful. To this day, I miss going on adventures with Molly and Kirsten, building fairy houses in the woods, and playing cats and dogs on the playground. When I have kids, I will do my best to create a home environment that inspires, nurtures, and excites.

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