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Imagination: How to leave reality and be a kid again

August 28, 2011
By JOSHUA S. FLESHER , Tribune Chronicle |

Throughout the course of my days here at the Tribune Chronicle, I have had some very interesting conversations.

Most deal with the often odd moments and items that come across our desks on a daily basis.

Others go back, back to when many of us were still kids. The way that we remember things, accurate or not, are always very funny.

A recent discussion centered mainly on the toys we played with.

I'm 29 years old, and as such, I was a child of the 1980s. I remember so many things that made the '80s great, and many of them were not featured on the VH1 television show.

Having a 2 1/2-year-old running through my house, I am starting to relive many of my childhood memories by pulling out the few remaining toys that have survived time and siblings and giving them to him.

The prize pieces of my toy collection have actually been traveling with me since my childhood, through college and into my adult life.

I spent a lot of years growing up collecting Starting Line-Up figurines. They were a collection of semi-poseable plastic football, baseball and basketball players made to look like the stars of the time.

I had a Joe Montana, Reggie White, Barry Sanders, Bernie Kosar and on and on. I loved these toys, and handing them over to my son was one of the best moments.

I realize this sounds really dorky, but I don't care.

Growing up, we all find those things that we are attached to in one shape or form, and they become as important to our development as people as anything else.

I also had an extensive collection of G.I. Joe figures and their vehicles. Again, growing up when I did, my G.I. Joes are small, not the big ones.

We used to have epic wars and battles with the other neighborhood kids on rainy summer days with our all of our combined figures.

Three thousand little plastic G.I. Joes, each coming with their own weapons and equipment when purchased new, and by the time we all played, there were a total of three guns remaining.

But that didn't matter because we had imaginations.

My little football figures played in real football games. I kept scores, stats and knew that if I switched one team's helmet with another, I could get it pretty close to looking like a college uniform, just to switch it up.

Those G.I. Joes, they were parts of long, drawn-out story lines, battles and wars. They switched houses, owners, were bartered and occasionally you lost one, but they were so important to our daily lives.

I suppose it's part of my getting older, but I look around my neighborhood now and the one I grew up in, and there's something missing - kids.

I guess times are changing, and the way kids pass the time is different, but I don't see kids running through the woods anymore, setting up battle grounds for their ''guys'' or just playing using their imaginations as their only restraint.

I talked to my 2-year-old recently about his imagination, and there is a chance that the conversation went a little over his head, but I hope that some of it stuck.

He was sitting on his bedroom floor playing with his Hot Wheels. They are easily his favorite toys, and at about a buck a piece, I have no problem grabbing him a few every now and again. He was playing very well by himself and making the noises and talking, but then stopped quickly and looked up at me and said, ''Daddy, I want this car to fly. Can it?''

And in so many words I told him that his cars can do anything he wants them to, and that is the absolute essence of being a kid.

You have a lot of years to be an adult and be restricted by the constraints of reality and physics, but as a kid, nothing is out of your grasp if you have an imagination.

I want my kids and all the kids who will let themselves to just be kids. I want them to play, get dirty, imagine the world is something it's not and find those little hidden places inside their own minds that is truly their own.

Imagination is being replaced with electronics, video games, television and a million other distractions that take the mind out of growing up, but think about where we would be without the imaginative.

We'd have no books, no art and no ways to escape, even if for a few minutes, the realities that we all live in.

Take a minute today, close your eyes and daydream. It will make your day.



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