Thursday, June 01, 2006

X Marks The Spot

Don't you love it when your kids act like kids? I don't mean the screaming and fighting bedtime and fingers in orifices, I mean when they use their creativity to entertain themselves. When they take that sense of adventure in its most innocent form and create worlds for themselves that can, at times, seem better than the one we live in. We don't realize how they absorb everything they see and hear - music and movies and stories we tell them - to use later, to become what they want to be at that moment, to make them happy and more, well, kid-like.

My kids went on a treasure hunt this evening, scouring and scavenging for whatever riches might be nigh. It reminded me of being young, of playing outside until the cicadas starting calling, digging around in the dirt with a stick sharpened to a point on the concrete. I searched high and low. For what? I didn't even know at the time. Sometimes I'd find an old Coca-Cola bottle buried for what I felt sure must be a century, sometimes an old tool that someone had left behind, every once in a while a coin or two. But it wasn't so much what I'd find as the hunt itself. I was in another world then, I was a pirate, a scavenger, it was the thrill of the hunt that I loved.

So tonight JP and S suspended reality and did a little exploring of their own. They sailed to a world far away, to a distant and unknown land lush with vegetation and sandy beaches - they went under the sofa. They got the one tool they thought they might need - my flashlight - and went hunting. This was my good flashlight, too. You know the one I'm talking about, guys, my Mag-Lite, the one they've been told over and over again is not a toy. They got down on their knees with their scrunched-up faces to the floor and their butts in the air to see what they could find under there. What did they find? What did that strong and sure beam of light (what beam is left with the weakening batteries) reveal? Let's see, they found marbles, they found some Hot Wheels cars, they found a part of a part of an unidentifiable toy, long forgotten, and they found a stuffed animal. Actually, once the dog hair was removed from the sticky substance that was stuck to whatever was underneath, it turned out not to be a stuffed animal at all. I'm not really sure what it was, it was thrust back under the couch - catch and release. They found a little bit of food, which surprised me, I really thought they'd find a lot more foodstuff. They either didn't eat it, or had the good sense not to let me see them eat it. It was all very interesting to them, much more interesting than the perfectly good toys in their rooms. And squatting down on the floor like that wasn't in any way a nuisance to those of us trying to make our way through the living room.

I'm glad that those two are starting to indulge their curiosity, I just wish it was outside, or in a book, and not under the Bermuda triangle of a sofa we sit on. I at least wish that if they really wanted to find out what's under there, that they'd do it with a broom, dustpan and Hefty bag. Even real pirates had to swab the deck and scrape barnacles off the hull every once in a while.