I'm sure most of us grew up with much emphasis placed on the importance of imagination. And if you're like me, you are probably raising your children to appreciate this beautiful gift as well. However, in our home imagination can take on all new proportions when attached to Leah. You see, her imagination and perception aren't entirely separated by reality. This little gem recently occurred in her Sunday School class, and her teacher was kind enough to pass along the story. Enjoy.
In Sunday School today, we were talking about going through hard times and how God will never leave us during those hard times. One of the worksheets had a child being laughed at for wearing silly clothes, another child scared of a growling dog, and a girl crying while her friend moved away. Then we each drew and described a hard time that we had. Leah is so creative and clever. She told me she had a very hard time when she moved to California on December 21, 2011. She said she used to live in a little village with very high hills with her friend Owen. To get in the village you had to scan your hand under a glass reader to make sure there was never blood on the hands and that they knew you were not a kidnapper. She continued on about how hard it was to leave the village and come to California. I have no idea how I should respond to stories like this. I love her imagination and I know this age group is very big on telling stories. I don't know if I should confront her in those situations for the truth or say, "wow, what a great story." How do you react? In class, I said, "wow, moving away to a new place is very hard" and moved on. I didn't want to validate her story nor deny what she said. I was going to bring up the story when you picked her up, but I didn't want to make her uncomfortable for bringing it up. I love her stories and the excitement and detail she gives them - but I don't know if I should "play along" as she presents them as truths. :) Every encounter I have with her makes me smile. She also told me in the bathroom that her little brother was so annoying she wanted to ship him in a box :)
After Christopher and I roared with laughter I replied to the teacher's email. The following might help you see why Leah's "imagination" is so difficult to separate from reality.
So first, let me say that you handled it very well. We definitely make a point of confronting the children on the difference between sharing a story and presenting make-believe as fact. However, I also find it so helpful to ask questions without preconceived assumptions that the story is false There are some hilarious points to Leah's tale that are actually true... when understood correctly.
-We moved to California on December 21, 2011. Leah didn't realize that we have always lived in the state of California, and thought our present home was California while the one we lived in previously was not. She obviously just threw a date out from nowhere! But, she was born in our previous house and she remembers the move quite well so I think that is why her story carried such a vivid "recollection" aspect to it.
-Her friend Owen. We had a family that lived down the street from us named Rouen (rhymes with Owen). They were quite good friends, and played together often.
-We lived in a little village with high hills. This is one of those things that especially makes me giggle. We lived in old military housing, and the community has a very "village" feel to it. You enter through an access street and then drop down into a rolling collection of duplexes. She was actually quite correct in describing it as a little village with very high hills. LOL We lived in an especially active cul-de-sac. Because our children were all much younger I didn't leave very often, and the kids became accustomed to us being in our village for days at a time. There was very little traffic, and absolutely no "through" traffic at all since there was no outlet for non-residents. Too add to this, you couldn't see any of the other cul-de-sacs from our street, but only trees and hills.
-You passed your hand under a glass reader to look for blood to make sure you weren't a kidnapper. Obviously this is just pure fabrication. When I mentioned this to her I simply asked her whether or not this was true. She said no, it was pretend and I again reminded her of the need to make sure you always tell the truth when you are sharing facts. If the person knows you are sharing a pretend story then make-believe is perfectly acceptable, but if they don't know it is pretend then you are lying. You are welcome to address her in this same manner.
-She wants to ship her brother in a box. I do too sometimes. :P