Ezra holds his mom's sunglasses. He's lifting the ear handles as if they were the bars that stop traffic when a train passes. "Ding, ding, ding, ding." The noise stops and I see the train swoosh by. "Ding, ding, ding, ding." The train safely past, I feel my car lurch forward and across the tracks.
Max sneaks around a corner. "Are you shooting someone with your air soft gun?" I ask.
There is no air soft gun here, but he gives me a covert nod as if doing otherwise will ruin the moment. The message is clear: I "get" what he's doing. He lifts his imaginary gun and points in a different direction.
As a child, I too created my own worlds. The spiral steps in my grandparents' yard were steps that led to a castle. Leaf covered pathways entered different worlds. My grandmother's garage was like a museum. Haunted-- not by ghosts, but by the unfamiliarity of days gone by.
Exploration and imagination are paramount to children, and the vividness of their engagements is inspiring. Though I am past pretending the enemy waits around the corner, or that my eyeglass arms are moveable bridges, I still feel the need for exploration and imagination in that exploration.
Saturday night, I am roped into chaperoning the school sweetheart dance. This includes walking the halls, looking for couples "seeking privacy," perusing the dance floor for over-board intimate dancing, and a twice-every-hour, stage check. The stage check is already covered, but while investigating the closed off part of the gym and open doors and hallways, I find myself at the stage door. It's dark and scary, but that exploration urge pushes me forward. I use the flashlight app on my phone and climb the stairs. It's spooky, black, and the perfect place to find a dead body. Or a zombie! I have to talk myself into staying calm. My moves are quick and purposeful, just a few stairs, an open door and I'm safe.
Most of the night is spent engaging with students: taking their photos, conversing over "little things," but mostly enjoying their handsome and beautiful dressed-up-selves. I even dance.
Before I left for the dance, I was partially dreading the long night. We'd rushed through dinner and I was missing the company of a visiting daughter. And foremost, it was a Saturday night at school. Who gives up Saturday night to chaperone at the school dance? The surprise was: I enjoyed myself immensely.
I had forgotten the childlike exploration and imagination that brings excitement and joy to life--and forgotten that both can be found, must be found, even in the mundane obligations on a Saturday night.