Art Linkletter Was Right!
The columnist shares the importance of encouraging our children to exercise their creative imaginations by becoming participants with them in that process.
“Children live in a world of dreams and imagination, a world of aliveness… There is a voice of wonder and amazement inside all of us; but we grow to realize we can no longer hear it, and we live in silence…….” ~ Mike Yaconelli
Between the years 1952 to 1970, Art Linkletter’s House Party was one of the most popular programs on television. Each show ended with a rip-roaringly funny segment entitled, Kids Say The Darndest Things. And believe me – they did!
One of the questions Art asked the kids on a fairly regular basis was, “What did your mommy or daddy tell you not to say on the show today?” As you can imagine, many of the kids’ responses to this query were hilarious – and oftentimes rather embarrassing to the parents of these little treasure chests of forbidden family secrets.
There was one little boy I remember vividly whom I’m sure got in a heap of trouble when he got home from the show. His response to Art’s question was, “My mommy told me not to say that my Uncle Mike stays at our house when my daddy goes out of town on business.”
Can you imagine? Of course there’s an upside to everything. I’m sure there were a couple of divorce lawyers who made a bundle of cash from this humiliating debacle. As for Uncle Mike; I’m guessing he and daddy probably don’t exchange Christmas cards any longer.
I love little kids! They’re so honest and their imaginations are so vital and unspoiled. It’s a shame that, often with the best of intentions; many a well-meaning adult has inadvertently snatched away a child’s dreams and stolen from them the mystery and the wonder of life.
Be careful what you say to your children. Guard your words carefully! Be positive and encouraging. The old adage, Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me, sounds good, but unfortunately it’s patently false. Words can hurt! Words can destroy!
In his book, Dangerous Wonder: The Adventure Of Childlike Faith, Michael Yaconelli says….
Remember the thrill of thinking you could fly? The adventure of going places in your imagination? The joy and abandon of running and jumping and playing hard – without worrying about what ‘might happen?
My oldest grandchild, Logan, is four-years old. I love spending time with him. To me, the most wonderful words in the world are, “Gampy, will you play with me?” No matter how busy I may be; I always make time for him. I don’t think anything I have to do could possibly be more important.
My response is always, “Sure, Logan. What do you want to do?” That can be a slightly dangerous question when talking about play between a guy who’s sixty-three and a four-year old but, short of a few minor bumps and bruises, a pulled muscle or two and a handful of Charley horses; I’ve survived so far. Of course there’s always tomorrow!
Logan may say, “Let’s play with my trucks,” or, “Want to play fireman, Gampy?” or maybe, “Want to play wrestling?” And no matter what it is he may want to do, I get down on the floor and dive in head first, caught up in the magic and wonder of his world of make-believe – and I love it!
Of course, there are times it’s difficult to stay down on the floor for any length of time without an arm or a leg going to sleep. And getting myself up from the floor is no picnic either, but it’s worth every ounce of pain and all the Advil tablets in the world for me to be able to spend some quality time with my grandson.
One of Logan’s favorite TV programs is Dino Dan; a show about a ten-year old boy who dreams of being a paleontologist - or at least that’s what the promos for the show will tell you. If they were being honest, they’d tell you that it’s really about a rather warped ten-year old boy who sees dinosaurs everywhere he goes; at home, out in his yard, at school – everywhere! And he’s the only one who sees them! And as if that weren’t enough, his mom, his teachers and his pals at school all play along with this charade. They’re textbook enablers!
I think either little Danny needs an intervention or mom needs to lock up the liquor cabinet, but that’s a topic for another day.
All kidding aside, Dino Dan is a great show and Logan loves it. And, of course, now Logan sees dinosaurs at every turn. And Gampy [that would be me] gets to hear all about the pesky prehistoric perpetrators that apparently visit his house on a regular basis.
Logan is forever saying things that crack me up. I have no clue where he comes up with this stuff. The other day, he came running up to me all excited. “Gampy,” he gasped. “Guess what I saw in my yard!”
“What, Logan?” I asked, expecting to hear that a dog or a cat had surreptitiously invaded his turf.
“A Stegosaurus,” he shouted excitedly.
“Really?” I replied in my best ‘amazed’ voice. “That’s awesome! What color was it?”
“It was blue,” Logan answered without hesitation.
“Wow, a blue Stegosaurus!” I responded, stumbling over the word Stegosaurus. “Cool! How did it get into your yard? Did it fly?”
“No, Gampy!” Logan replied incredulously. “A Stegosaurus can’t fly!”
“Oh,” I said. “I saw a flying dinosaur on Dino Dan the other day. Wasn’t that a Stegosaurus?”
Logan looked at me and shook his head, obviously shocked by my naiveté on the subject of dinosaurs. “No, Gampy,” he said.
“Well, what was it then?” I inquired.
Logan paused momentarily, obviously deep in thought and replied, “That was a Flyosaurus!”
I tried my hardest not to laugh but I couldn’t contain myself. I laughed so hard I had tears running down my face. When I finally got control of myself I looked up at Logan, who had a huge grin on his face, and said, “A Flyosaurus? Are you sure? I think you’re trying to fool Gampy.”
Logan peered up at me, smiling, gave me a slightly perplexed look and replied, “No I’m not. It’s not even noon yet!”
I have no idea what that meant and I didn’t ask. And as I said before; I don’t know how he comes up with these things, but as a writer/creative-type, I’m greatly impressed by his active, vivid imagination. I love it!
Unfortunately, as hard as it may be for some to believe; there are those who would have shattered Logan’s fantasy, telling him how ridiculous it was to think there was a dinosaur in his yard, squelching his creative imagination.
I watch my grandchildren; how they play so innocently, so inquisitively, so joyously and I ask myself - Why? Why would anyone want to take away a child’s dreams?
I don’t get it. Why would anyone want to destroy that world of dreams and imagination; that world of aliveness; that voice of wonder and amazement?
That inner voice; that creativity and imagination that dwells in each of us are precious gifts from our Creator. We must allow those gifts to flourish in our children. We must let them grow to their fullest. We must allow them the freedom to be themselves; the one they were meant to be.
Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly. ~ Langston Hughes
Make it a great week!
Bob Havey is an Easton-based freelance writer and a consummate trouble-maker. His column, "The View From Here", appears each Tuesday at http://easton-ma.patch.com and on Wednesday at http://mansfield-ma.patch.com. His column, “The Way I See It”, runs every other Wednesday at http://norton.patch.com.