Kids and their imagination

 •  Filed under Articles, Kids, Family

I initially drafted this in August 2011, during my stint on Since then it's been sitting in a file waiting to be published, until now.

I've just had to run back up the stairs and console our 4 year old son who was scared that the aliens and robots in space would come down from space and get him. Poor little guy. He's probably the biggest fan of Star Wars I know, and he watches and plays with his Star Wars stuff everyday. Since we moved him into the larger bedroom though, he's become a little restless at night and he frequently worries about things coming into his bedroom.I was a kid once, and I remember going through the same thing. E.T. the Extra-Terrestial had just come out at the cinema and I think it was my birthday. As a treat, my mum and dad took me to the movies to see it. At the time I had no idea what the movie was about and at the start you are faced with this creepy little creature being chased through a forest.Now when you've barely just started school and you're not very wise to the world and everything in it, the first thing that springs to you're mind when a bunch of guys are chasing something through a forest is that whatever they're chasing, that thing is dangerous and should be caught right away. Eventually the guys give up and the creature finds itself, looking down on the suburbs of a sprawling American city.

After that experience I had plenty of nightmares about the strange little alien getting chased through the forest (who wouldn't at that age), but nothing compared to the thoughts I had at the last house that we lived in before moving back to Scotland.We had a nice detached house with bedrooms upstairs. I always remember being similar to the Elliot's house in the movie. The similarities don't end there though. Across the road from our house was a spot of wasteland and next to that was the dual carriageway. After that was a hill with trees dotted all over it. I didn't know what was on the other side, but I didn't need to ask. My imagination was running riot.Every night my imagination told me that there was a stranded alien over that hill and it would be my house it would be curious about. I think the worse thing was that my bed was at the top of the room and when I lay in my bed, I would look down at the bottom of the room, where the window was. What did my window look onto? The tree covered hill across the road.Now at the time, I didn't know why my bedroom window was open. Apparently it was too hot at night, so my mum would leave the window and curtains open slightly to let some cool air in after the house was baking all day in the summer heat.Now you might laugh and mock, but when you're a kid, there's no bounds to your imagination. You don't know about the physical constraints around the world. In your eyes, anything can happen. The cardboard box that your parents new television gets delivered in becomes a space ship, the back garden becomes the venue for an epic battle with giant robots, the stairs become the biggest mountain in the world, and you must scale it all the way to the top. Too bad most of us lose that imagination as we get older.

I think it's great my son has such a vivid imagination, he creates anything out of whatever he has and he loves pretending and using his imagination. Looking back at my episode in Calgary with E.T., I realise how much of an imagination I had. I know I had seen the movie and I simply lifted that scenario to my own world, but it was my first experience of really using my imagination. Since that chapter in my life, I've been a frequent reader of sci-fi and fantasy books, and I've started writing my own short stories. All because I freaked out over an alien that I thought lived in the forest across the road from me.

When my son is a bit older and wiser, I'll remind him of how great his imagination was when he was little boy and the things that he used to make believe about and be scared of. He would do well to keep his imagination fed with a genre of his choice. I know he's going to be a great golfer when he's older, but there's no harm in having a backup career in case that falls through.