Itís lost. It doesnít exist today. What have we lost? Pretending is a lost art because our children donít know how to pretend any more.
Growing up I cut paper dolls out of catalogs. I made mud pies and frosted them with wild flowers or pebbles. I created playhouses out of boards and sticks. I canít remember seeing a child do this recently. Maybe itís because there is no need to pretend anymore. Children today have the real things-real dolls, real ovens, real play houses.
On the other hand, some things about our childhood have not changed. The Innocent conversations of children are still reasons for us to stop, smile and think. In the book, A Monster is Bigger than 9, we can eavesdrop on thought provoking talk shows by children. Listen carefully to this conversation:
ďLetís pretend you like me, okay? If you do we can tap dance in the sandboxĒ.Ē
Would you agree there are some folks you just donít want to play with in the sandbox? For one thing they donít know how to play. Never would you see them get on the floor with a child, much less in a sandbox.
If we turn this around; we might be identified as the one whom others have to pretend they like. We may never get invited to put on our dancing shoes because we are too bossy and demanding; or we are too negative and angry.
Letís move on. I see two little girls with their heads close together sharing a secret. One jumps up, and putting her hands on her hips shares a hurt, ďShe screamed me over today.Ē
Have you ever been screamed over by the blow of sharp words? This is a blow that is hard to recover from. When words are screamed at us it may cause us to lose our confidence in the writer God created us to be.
If we refrain from throwing stinging darts, I donít think we will have to say, ďLetís pretend you like me, okay?Ē People will genuinely like you. The last pretending thought goes like this: ďLets pretend weíre having fun.Ē
What is it in your life you donít have to pretend that itís fun? May I share with you a great fun time I am having? Iím teaching creative writing. Have I ever done this before? Yes, for about 10 years I taught writing to sixth graders. Is there a difference in what I am doing now? Oh, YES! When I taught school, I taught around 145 sensational sixth graders writing all day long. Now Iím teaching and learning from about 15 wonderful writers at the Hattiesburg YMCA one hour a week. The big difference was creative writing was not a high priority for about 144 of those 145 sixth graders I taught. Now new friends who actually want to be better writers surround me. This could be heaven for a teacher who has retired after 32 years from being tired.
My new writer friends may find this writing today. Thatís an unsettling thought. Have I used a good hook to draw you into my story? Have I written simply, stepping on adjectives and adverbs? Does this column flow with a mixture of sentence length and structure? I am afraid I have put myself on the line with this one. But thatís okay, for I donít have to pretend I am a perfect writer or that I am having fun. There really is no pretense in this new experience of tap dancing in this writing sandbox with my dancing partners. Iím learning some new dance steps. Hopefully they are. too.
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