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Friday, February 22, 2013

How to go inside the magical world of a child

Once a week, I have a day with my grandkids. This is a tradition of almost eight years, one I cherish.

Every grandkid day is different: they're all funny, but they're not all magical.

Magical is when a child forgets you're there - or doesn't care - and you get a chance to peek into the amazing world of the child's imagination, which is very real to the child.

If you think back, very hard, to your own childhood, you will remember the feeling that the imaginary is real, maybe more real than everyday life.

This week's grandkid visit was a magical one.

Oliver (7) and Liam (2) were playing in the family room, which is just two steps up from the basement. I went into the basement for a moment, and when I came back, Oliver and Liam were huddled together beside the open doorway between the family room and the basement.

At first I thought they were hiding there to startle me with "Boo!" - but not so. They ignored me. They kept looking into the basement - as if someone were lurking there. Each boy held a thingie made of Tinker Toys.

"What's going on?" I asked.

"We're shooting some bad guys," Oliver explained.

"Oh." I stood there. Quiet. Then I backed away to the opposite side of the open doorway.

Oliver stayed back, cautious, out of sight of the bad guys. Occasionally he snatched a glance into the basement, then tucked his head back. He was taking no chances.

Suddenly he reached forward with his Tinker Toy thingie and aimed it into the basement. I understood that the Tinker Toy thingie was a gun when he pelted a bunch of bad guys with it. It made machine gun sounds that emanated from Oliver's mouth. Liam did whatever Oliver did, although his sound effects weren't as perfected.

Oliver looked up at me with big serious eyes and said, "We'll protect you."

"Good," I said.

He shot some more.

"Are they all gone?" I asked.

"There's one left." He shot again. That was it.

With the enemy vanquished, the boys put their guns into the block box and we settled onto the couch to read books.

For a minute, I was in their world. I don't know how I got entry this time, but I have a hunch that a light tread is required.

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