Adventures in Babysitting

You are about to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop: the twilight zone world of a seven year old!

When I’m between wordly travels (usually due to lack of funds), I have to seek adventures closer to home. Really close to home. Most of my friends either have children too old to need a babysitter or don’t live near enough for me to help them out, so my babysitting opportunities have been rare lately, which is why it was a treat – and an education – to watch over seven-year-old JB the other evening.

I’d forgotten how destructive (yet creative) little boys can be: how a living room can become a demolition derby for trucks, cars, and even Lego robots. The sequence went something like this: crash the trucks into the wall, fling the robot across the room whereupon it disentegrates into pieces, change positions, crash the trucks into the opposite wall, re-assemble the Lego robot, repeat.

And all the while spinning a zombie story that went something like this: the zombie robots invade, there’s a lot of fighting, they eat brains, and then…everyone loses their heads. It’s not the first time I’ve heard JB, or other small boys, tell tales of decapitation. What is it about little boys that they want to remove heads?

At the same time there is astonishing creativity. Just feet away from the truck graveyard was a racing track which JB had designed and laid out on the floor using only masking tape. There was also a cardboard box containing a diorama of some futuristic-looking space station (I think that’s what it was) made from glue, tape, Legos, old CDs, thread spools, and other miscellaneous junk objects…and some headless action figures of course. All from a kid who doesn’t watch t.v.

It was a display of imagination I tend to only see in the children of friends who don’t rely on the television to be babysitter and pacifier. (One friend, who is a teacher, told me that imaginative play is more prevalent in such children than those who spend hours in front of a television with their brains disengaged.)

I’m not knocking television. I’m not a hater. Admittedly, I like my t.v.  I’m one of those people who like to have the t.v. on even if I’m not watching it for the background noise. It’s comforting.

But I do remember that my childhood was equal parts t.v. watching, reading, and free play – running around outside with the other neighborhood kids, unsupervised, until the various mothers began yelling that dinner was ready. What did we do? Pretty much anything. No, we didn’t get into trouble…well, maybe minor trouble…but we always let our imaginations run wild with all sorts of silly adventures (all contained within that neighborhood which is all we knew of the world at that time).

I appreciated spending the evening with a child who played (not playing a video game – although that can be fun too), especially a kid who loves zombies like I do. I need to get some more zombie inspiration from JB, and write new zombie stories. Heads will roll.

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