Friday, July 30, 2010
Imagine our relief to find Elijah actually has an imagination. We were beginning to wonder if the actual act of playing was permanently erased by too much TV. But now that he is living his life in all things Star Wars, he is using more and more of his brain for things other than thinking of ways to manipulate us into watching more TV.
Now that he actually likes to play, he wants playmates. Specifically, me. He begs me constantly to get on the floor and make believe with him.
But here’s the thing: I forgot how.
Now, when I was a lad, Steve and I almost lived our entire lives in make believe land. We filled hours, days, years with fantasies so elaborate, J.R.R. Tolkien would’ve said, “Huh?” Like Tolkien, we used to chronicle our elaborate fantasy lives in a rambling, hand-written book called “Fabulous Faces.” I have no idea what the title means. Or who the characters were. Or what happened. The book , as well as the part of my brain that makes stuff up, somehow got lost on the way to adulthood.
So when Eli asked me to sit and play Star Wars guys with him, I had a hard time getting going. I found myself creating scenarios where Han Solo and Chewbacca had to give a big presentation to German clients. Or Darth Vader got chastised by Princess Leia for not rinsing off his dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. Elijah would look at me, dumbfounded, before aiming an imaginary laser gun at me and shouting, “Pew pew pew!”
After weeks of continuous playing, the muscle in my brain that thinks of cool stuff started working again. It’s been slow work. Occasionally I slip into situations where Luke Skywalker has to stop off that the convenience store for a pack of gum before heading to the subway .
But a week or so ago, Eli and I played and played and I created a story about Han and Chewie that would’ve made George Lucas proud. I became so engrossed in my story that I kept playing even after Eli lost interest.
And then I realized Diana was standing in the kitchen, taping me with the video camera.