12 April 2013


Just the other day I was talking to S about imagination and how I have none. Well, not none exactly, but the inability to pretend the world is any different than it is. I have zero capacity for seeing the floor as lava, the cardboard tube as a sword, or the rags as a princess dress. To me these things are simply the floor, a tube, and rags. Period. And I actually would become frustrated that the tube wasn't a sword. That no matter how much I tried to pretend or imagine a sword in my hand it would still always be a tube.

Now, I could play with the tube as an object for play fighting, or jump across furniture with the idea of not touching the floor. But I never, not even for a second, could believe the floor would kill me. Reality just has too much of a grip over me. 

As a little girl I thought there was something wrong with me for my inability to pretend. From everything I could gather children were supposed to pretend. They were to have tea parties and pretend they were wearing ball gowns like princesses. But not once did I ever think my stuffed animals or dolls could talk or come alive in any way. When I would play with my Barbies I would never forget that the doll wasn't real, I would not put myself in the doll's position, I would not play act any scenes from home. And on the off chance I did do any of that it was because I was with someone else and I was 'supposed to' pretend, so I pretended that I was pretending to look normal. I thought I simply grew out of playing with toys early on. Or maybe that I was just never carefree enough to let go like that.

Now I don't think it's too abnormal as my older son T is much the same way. I could see the mystified look on other children's faces as he didn't follow along in their imaginary world. 

What S found to be a bit odd was that I do have a very active imagination. I am very frequently off in my own world inside my head. A world where I am thinner, more popular, rich, or able to stand my ground with a bully. I can get so lost in my daydreams that I will forget where I am or where I am going. Obviously I've learned to keep my mind on the task at hand when doing things like driving...well, when the roads are busy anyway.

What's particularly odd is that my fantasy world will play out even while I'm reading a book or watching TV. I can easily follow the plot line of a book and read a great deal before realizing that not only have I been reading, but I've also been actively living in my fantasy world at the same time. Sometimes I even need to tell myself to stop with the imagining and focus on the book alone. That works for a minute or two...then off my mind goes into a place where I've won the lotto or something. I actually thought everyone could do this but the look on S's face told me otherwise.

One thing I have learned is to not go too crazy in daydreaming. It can be a crushingly disappointing if it's too different than the real world.

1 comment:

none of your beeswax said...

i also lacked the ability to have imaginative play in a similar way as you have described. i didn't "play pretend" or create scenarios for my toys. it's actually one of the criteria for Asperger's Syndrome, and it tends to make children with the condition seem like little adults.

but on the flip side, when i am acting as a character (i.e. in a play), i actually forget i am acting. in the moment it becomes completely real, and i am totally unself-conscious.

sometimes i imagine alternate realities for myself. like i rehearse future interactions with people. but they are unpredictable so it never pans out as expected!