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Donna Barker

Nurturing the gift of imagination

My granddaughter, Brynnan, still dressed in her princess girl pajamas, came down the stairs to the basement bedroom where I had slept the night before. She turned off the lights in the room, climbed on the bed, and said the same thing to me which she had said most every morning since I got there ... “Tell me a story, Grandma, a scary story.”

And so, lowering my voice to a whisper, I slip out of bed and walk slowly, ever so slowly, around the room, and begin the story ...

“Long, long ago, in a faraway land, there lived a little princess girl who loved to sing and loved to dance. But one day, when the sky was very dark, the little princess girl heard something, or someone, coming out of the nearby forest land. That something, or that someone, was getting closer, closer, closer to the little princess girl.”

Without another word, I creep closer and closer to my granddaughter, hovering just below the side of the bed. When the silence seems too hard to bear any longer, I jump up from the side of the bed and grab my granddaughter’s toes. She screams and falls back on the bed in laughter.

The end of the story  ... and the beginning of another day with Brynnan.

The thing is I’m not a fan of scary stories at most any age, but I am a fan of Brynnan. Therefore I will stretch my mind to become a pretend scary monster for her. I will also play Pinkie Pie Pony and Strawberry Shortcake with her.

Far away from the realities of our life in Bureau County, my husband and I entered last week into the imagination-filled world of our granddaughters Brynnan, 4, and Brooklyn, 14 months.

For Brooklyn, most of her imagination and play time centers around putting multi-colored balls into a spiral slide, watching the balls cascade downward and then come out of the mouth of either a hippopotamus or a turtle. Though it may seem like a fairly simple and repetitive game, it is actually quite fun as you guess which animal will receive the most balls and which colors. Brooklyn also enjoys a trampoline kind of toy, which bounces the balls around until they are thrown overboard. Life is somewhat simple when you are only 14 months old.

Entering into the land of imagination is not always an easy thing for me to do. As a reporter, I deal with facts and realities, not with pretend monsters or talking ponies. When I put my head to the pillow at night, I want to be able to check off the things I have accomplished that day, real things which can be measured, like stories written or photographs taken.

But that’s not the way it is with children. When I went into Brynnan’s room each night to read to her and listen to her prayers, she would thank God for her family and for giving her a great day, a day filled with stories and pretend people and animals who could talk.

I couldn’t help but smile as I thought about Brynnan’s definition of a great day and my typical definition of a great day. I also couldn’t help but think that my days, even back home in Bureau County, could become a little bit richer if I nurtured the gift of imagination now and then.

BCR Senior Staff Writer Donna Barker can be reached at dbarker@bcrnews.com.

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