Learning from the Little People: Imaginations on Fire

Multiple-balloons-tied-from-a-stringJanuary 12th, 1937, Saint Mark’s Place, Manhattan, Maggie’s diary continues:

M. home last night with news that Glenn Frank was just ousted from the presidency of U. Wisconsin.  He might join the Herald Tribune staff.  We were wondering if he was going to do column, and plotted a skit for a quartet with Lippmann, Thomspon, Sullivan and Frank, tired radicals in Herald Tribune feather bed, “And the middle one said, ‘Roll over!  Roll over!’” Had great fun with this.

To dinner at Café Basque on 57th Street, fair cocktail and good enough meal though hardly seemed worth $4.50 it came to, and then to Little Carnegie to see Mr. Deeds Goes to Town with Gary Cooper, voted best movie of 1936. M.  thought it was very shallow indeed, especially the superficial humaneness of Mr. Deeds, who inherited 20 million, and then wanted to put unemployed on farms. This view was counteracted by the capitalist angle that natural men should be put down.  I thought better than most movies.  Both annoyed by sappy newspaper scenes, totally unreal.  But thought Gary C.  pretty good.  Lost my glasses. Can’t imagine where.

And what was her granddaughter, Suzanne, doing in Brattleboro, VT January 12th, 2010?

Isn’t that last line so funny? If I wrote that last line, it would probably be followed by, I am always losing things. What’s wrong with me?  So-and-so never loses things. And then I would make a therapy appt. to discuss why I lose things, and if it somehow stems back to something unresolved in my childhood. But my grandmother doesn’t play that punitive, self-doubt game. Kids don’t play it yet, either.  They don’t have time, they are too busy playing other, better games, and paying very good attention to one of the most important, least-valued resources in the world: The Imagination!

I know this because today I went over to the Academy School, where I did a writing workshop with the little people.  Their imaginations are so wild, so expansive, so in touch with another dimension, it just makes you want to climb inside their little bodies and go for a ride. We made up a group story about a place called Dream Falls. It’s under the ocean, but it has a wall that keeps the water at bay. You can only get into Dream Falls if you know the secret combination, and everything in there is made of candy. Lemon drop rain and chocolate lakes.  The characters inside, who are mostly fairies, lounge around in gingerbread houses on gingerbread chairs.  It snows honey, so the fairies have a machine where they can go to get their wings dried.  A big elephant with pink polka dots lives there, and he always thinks the combination to get in is strawberry ice cream.  He keeps thinking he should go on a diet, but then he forgets and takes a big bite out of a gingerbread chair.  There are the villains, of course,  there’s a fire dragon with x-ray vision who lives in a lava mountain, and the bad scientist  in space with three thumbs for fingers and black gloves  he wears even to bed and a big eyeball right in the  middle of his head.  “Was he always a bad guy?” I asked the boy who imagined him up.  “Oh no,” the boy said. “When he was a boy his whole family got killed, and he got left all by himself, like an orphan, in outerspace.”  “That would make anyone a bad guy,” I said.

After we made up the story, we illustrated it, and the whole room was filled with fairies and villains and hot lava houses and happy children, their little bodies wriggling around with that extra energy that comes from imagining, the whole school echoing with the sounds of their joyful little voices: Look what I made! Look what I made!!! And I wondered, for one electric minute filled with possibility, who was teaching who.

Grandma didn’t write on the 13th, so I’ll see you on the 14th everybody, and I’ll be in Maine!!!!

Want more sweet writerly treats?
It's freeeee:

2 Responses to “Learning from the Little People: Imaginations on Fire”

  1. Fatal error: Uncaught Error: Call to undefined function ereg_replace() in /home/suzan7/public_html/gateless/wp-content/themes/mystile/includes/theme-comments.php:69 Stack trace: #0 /home/suzan7/public_html/gateless/wp-content/themes/mystile/includes/theme-comments.php(25): the_commenter_link() #1 /home/suzan7/public_html/gateless/wp-includes/class-walker-comment.php(184): custom_comment(Object(WP_Comment), Array, 1) #2 /home/suzan7/public_html/gateless/wp-includes/class-wp-walker.php(147): Walker_Comment->start_el('', Object(WP_Comment), 1, Array) #3 /home/suzan7/public_html/gateless/wp-includes/class-walker-comment.php(139): Walker->display_element(Object(WP_Comment), Array, '5', 0, Array, '') #4 /home/suzan7/public_html/gateless/wp-includes/class-wp-walker.php(390): Walker_Comment->display_element(Object(WP_Comment), Array, '5', 0, Array, '') #5 /home/suzan7/public_html/gateless/wp-includes/comment-template.php(2388): Walker->paged_walk(Array, '5', 0, 0, Array) #6 /home/suzan7/public_html/gateless/wp-content/themes/myst in /home/suzan7/public_html/gateless/wp-content/themes/mystile/includes/theme-comments.php on line 69