Top Secret

Top Secret

Bella’s chatting away on the top secret purple butterfly barrette phone again. Her shoe also conceals a phone, or so it seems. Sometimes the ball is a phone too. James Bond has nothing on this girl.

Today it started when the office phone rang some time after breakfast. As soon as she heard the ring, she sat up and held her hand to the side of her face and started chatting away. Later, she found the barrette to use as a mouthpiece.

When does fantasy start and imaginative play begin? Melissa Wiley documented the fantastic moment she realized her son was imagining animals into his story book here:

I never noticed the awakening of the imagination before�if asked, I’d have said it didn’t have to awaken, it was always just there. But with this child, I think I witnessed the moment real imagination arrived. There’s a board book he wants me to read every day at naptime, the Byron Barton Trains book, and on one page there’s a picture of a train passing some houses, and one of the houses has a little black dog in front of it. For weeks Wonderboy would say, “Do-hee” (doggy) when I turned to that page, and then one day he said, “Doggy in house. Doggy go house,” and he pointed to the house the dog (presumably) lives in. Then he pointed to another house on the page and said, “Cat house.” Another house: “Mouse in house.” He was imagining other animals into the picture, pretending them right into those other quiet houses.

Imagination: it’s such an illusive thing to catch a child at. What Bella is doing certainly isn’t yet the leap of inventing new characters for a familiar story. And yet I think I see the beginnings of it here in Bella’s ability to adapt any small object into a phone, to imitate in her chatter the tones and actions of her parents when we talk on our phones.  Ever since I read Melissa’s post, I’ve been watching Bella and wondering what is going on in that little head of hers?

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  • I didn’t read the Giving Tree until I was 10 or 12.  By that age, I knew enough to know that the boy’s actions were selfish, and that he was not the model to be followed.  Rather, the tree’s selflessness was the ideal.  I never got the sense that it was somehow a bad model, becuase the nuns at school had been telling me for years that we were all supposed to love selflessly and give without expecting thanks.  The parable aspect never occurred to me, but I still think the tree is a pretty good model of virtue.

  • Melanie,

    First let me say I agree with you. But I’d take one thing you said one step further. You said, “Just look at Christ, the Bridegroom, hanging from the cross, the ultimate giving tree.” I’d add that, as Christ and God the Father are to be our models as parents, then it is a book about the parent/child relationship. I would not say it is an instructional about “lenient and permissive parenthood” but quite the opposite. “Lenient and permissive parenthood” is not real love at all since the parent is only giving the child everything he wants rather than what is best. In The Giving Tree, the tree never tells the boy to simply do whatever he wants in a desperate attempt to maintain the boy’s friendship but rather the boy loves being with the tree and the tree with the boy but, as the boy grows older, he comes to the tree and asks for specific things for his own happiness and the tree is as all parents should be – selfless. The tree wants him to have money to support himself and a home and find happiness.

    You and I and many parents know that we lay down our lives daily for our children. We give piggy-back rides when they swing in our branches and rock them to sleep when they nap in our shade. And when they ask to go to college, we give them apples to sell and when they get married we help them build a home. And when they need a place to rest we are always there for them even if we are old, wrinkly stumps. My daughter is only 1 1/2 years old but the only thanks I need are her hugs and when she snuggles up next to me. And when she is older, all I ask is she be the best person she can possibly be. What more thanks does a parent need?