I remember being a child and using my imagination all day long.
I could make up situations for toys to act out, allowing the plastic creatures to have conversations and go on adventures. As I got older, those imaginary conversations between toys morphed into daydreams about boys.
Then thinking about dream jobs.
Then planning for dream homes.
Today, my imagination still lives somewhere, but it is buried behind to-do lists and numbers. That creative, fun-loving part of my mind has been covered up with grocery store lists and work deadlines.
To make the situation even sadder, I have a significant reminder that my imagination is rusty:
“Mommy, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE play dinosaurs with me!” my son begs every day.
This is how old I am: I would rather stand in line at the post office for five hours than play dinosaurs for five minutes.
I love taking my kids new places, running around the backyard, introducing them to new toys, doing puzzles and anything else that is pretty surface-level or education-based. It’s when my son wants to go deep into a pretend prehistoric world that I really have a problem because my lack of imagination gets in the way.
I find myself thinking that most of these dinosaurs weren’t even alive at the same time, as their terrifying existences were separated by millions of years. And a T-Rex would totally eat an Ornithomimus if he could, but somehow my son has them building a boat and sailing the sea together. (Also, no way could a T-Rex build a boat with those dinky arms.)
This little game is like a grueling workout for me because my imagination is so wildly out of shape. I tell myself that I just need to do it for five or 10 minutes and then it will be over.
I even set a timer.
Yes, I set a timer so I can count down the seconds until I am done setting up an imaginary dinner for 18 species of sauropods that never walked the earth at the same time.
I know this sounds terrible.
I love my son, and spending time with him is the entire reason I left my traditional job and started working from home.
But I freaking hate the stupid dinosaurs and their trite conversations and plot lines that GO NOWHERE.
In my defense, it’s not like I want to sit on the couch and watch “Sex and the City” for the umpteenth time.
(OK, that’s a lie. I do. I want to do that in lieu of nearly anything else in my life.)
But really, I just can’t get my mind to work that way anymore. I know I’m supposed to live for the moment and cherish the present, but I’m not someone who can shut down the nagging part of my brain that wants me to finish up work, clean the house and cook dinner.
The timer goes off, and my Triassic toddler asks me, “Mom, you don’t want to play dinosaurs anymore?”
I choose to tell him the truth:
“Buddy, I just don’t have the imagination. All that creativity that you have, that makes me love you even more, I just don’t have it. I need you to play and love dinosaurs because Mommy just can’t anymore.”
He returns to the growling and gnashing teeth alone, and I watch for just a few moments, not sure if I am relieved to be alleviated of playtime, or envious that he can take such pleasure in escaping inside his little mind for a while.