Children are literally force-fed wonder. And all too often, the dose is administered with a spoon full of sugar.
It's everywhere in their lives. In stories, in school, for the holidays. In their games and toys. In their books, movies, and computer games. On their sheets and cereal boxes. From the very early, talking, anthropomorphic animals, to princesses and dragons and all the fairy tales, and on to the whole complex world of Santa Claus as well as the darker side of wonder—ghost stories and the supernatural. All great stuff.
Yet too often it's a grown-up trying to use the lure of wonder to sculpt a child into a certain picture of goodness. And instead of really grappling with life's issues, they sugarcoat it with false dichotomies and over-simplistic logic. Other times, it's well-intentioned adults trying to bring kids happiness and positive stimulation. And that's great, too, but unfortunately it's also a trap.
Because first we're heavily encouraged to believe in imagination and all kinds of things that don't exist. The fun never stops. It's all beautiful, and happy, and exciting, and well, wonderful. Bliss, bliss. Until...
[screeching of tires]
We're suddenly stupid and childish for believing in them. Then suddenly having anything to do with imagination becomes the worst thing you can do. Lie, steal, cheat, hit, curse. Those are supposed to be no-nos, but nothing compared to the flack you will get for exercising your imagination of the fantastic as a teen or an adult. A bad-boy or a bad girl is cool and looked up to; a geek or a nerd is a total loser. They are ostracized, harassed, beaten, humiliated. You can bully people. And that's okay. Get girls drunk to sleep with them. That's okay, too. But play D&D and oh. my. gods, you're the lowest of the low.
FCI—fantasy, creativity and imagination—are actually not crimes. They are an inherent part of every single human being on the planet.
They bring us joy and refreshment. They stretch our thinking and our picture of the world, keeping it limber and flexible. Keeping us more open-minded and tolerant. They help keep empathy and compassion flowing. They generate new ideas and fresh perspectives. And they are a tremendous amount of fun.
Does it really make sense to steer clear of experiencing wonder just because you're no longer a child?
Take them back.
Now that you're older and have more experience, you can strip out all the sugary badness (meaning the over-simplistic moralizing and the false promises) and see through the lies. And you can make wonder your own.
Take back the wonder, and return the shame.
Amber Michelle Cook's Blog
A call to all grown-ups everywhere: Play!