I was one of those kids who lectured for her stuffed animals. I’d line them up on the bed, and the chairs, and on the sofa, and use the chalkboard at the front of the “class” to illustrate my lessons. Arithmetic and spelling exercises, story time, History, flashcards, lots of lectures on animals since I planned to be a veterinarian (and many of my pupils were animals).
From the second grade, I wrote stories, and newspapers, and handed them out to the neighborhood kids. I conducted interviews and wrote editorials. To my pets, and stuffed animals, and little brother, and all the kids in the neighborhood, I told the most fantastic stories. The thief who lived in the moon. The crocodile who slept every night under my bed, but had once been a girl who could fly.
I invented lives for everyone and everything: the kids and their families, our buick, my bicycle, the stuffed dog we’d bought in London, the smokestacks in the industrial part of Mainz. When I was frightened, I told myself stories. Stories of my valor, and triumph. Stories of my tragic and notorious death. Stories of my crimes.
Do all children do this?
And if so, does it stop for some children? The ones who become bankers and lawyers and business executives? I’m not talking about the kind of self-delusion humans use to get themselves through the meaningless busy work of cubicle life. I’m talking about the world of invention. A place where everything–everything!–is alive with possibility. Endless and animated possibility.
Do you know it? Do you remember?