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The magical world under the table (Or: Life Lessons I Learn from Maddie)

March 1, 2010

“Now that the party’s over, can I create a world under the table again?” Maddie asked.

She’d been rather hard-done-by when she’d had to pack up her little imaginary home under the dining room table when her sister’s birthday warranted two separate parties in two consecutive weekends. Dolls, stuffed animals, her plastic stool/anything-she-wants-it-to-be, magical boxes full of treasure – all had to be stashed into her bedroom until the rest of the family members stopped caring about the messes that guests weren’t supposed to see.

“Sure you can,” I said, wanting to encourage her imagination and knowing that these magical worlds always equal hours of independent play and less need for Mommy’s attention.

An hour later, I found her there, lying still on the floor, staring up at the bottom of the table. “What are you doing?” I asked.

“I’m daydreaming,” she said. “I have to do it here because I’m not allowed to do it at school.”

“You’re not allowed to?”

“No, Madame says we’re supposed to read, not daydream.”

“Well,” I said, “in my experience, if you pretend you’re reading, you can still daydream without anyone knowing you’re doing it! I still do it and I’m 43 years old!”

Her eyes twinkled at the thought of mildly deceiving Madame – with her mom’s permission.

“Yeah, I do that sometimes,” she grinned.

It might not make me Mom-of-the-year where the education system is concerned, but I’m much more interested in Mom-of-the-year where Maddie is concerned.

True to form, she spent the rest of the afternoon under the table. Later I found her curled up in a ball completely covered in a table cloth. When I asked what she was doing, she let me peek under the table cloth. She’d hauled the battery-operated camping lantern out of the basement and was pretending it was her campfire under the tent.

It’s good to have a 7 year old around to remind me of magical worlds in ordinary places, the wonders of a plastic stool, and the value of daydreaming.

When’s the last time you created a magical world under the table? And when’s the last time you lay on your back just to daydream? Maybe you should stop what you’re doing and try it, just for awhile.

Take it from my 7 year old artist/guru – it’s a wonderful way to pass a Sunday afternoon!

(And in case you’re an educator and you’re worried that her daydreaming is keeping her from reading, she dove into her very first chapter book this weekend and proudly and delightfully read 137 pages!)

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Barbara Winter permalink
    March 1, 2010 6:33 pm

    Oh, Heather, you reminded me of the little guru I used to live with. Now she has a daughter of her own who is a teacher to both of us. Thanks so much for sharing this story. I just read Michael Pollan’s wonderful A Place of My Own which is about how he (with no handyman skills) built a writing house for himself. It was also a place for him to daydream. Maddie’s lucky to have you to let her know that daydreaming is a fine use of time.

  2. March 1, 2010 8:20 pm

    under the table and dreaming! i love this post: i too loved to hang out under the table and dream, make forts, create a magical world of my own as a kid. I was also told to stop daydreaming constantly in school! I have a report card or 2 with written reminders 😉 Maddie sounds like my kinda kid, and a delight (you can tell her that) and I actually really love your approach to momming. Something else that this post reminded me of is one of my fave songs by my faves, The Dave Matthews Band: Under the Table and Dreaming – the lyrics talk of that same thing 🙂 nice reminder of a song i forgot about. Inspiration all around! Thanks Heather. I really enjoyed this post.

  3. ccap permalink
    March 2, 2010 7:02 am

    Sweetness. Our imaginative girl usually involves us having Johnny Kamer or Jessica over for supper. I think yours might be more appealing. 🙂 Less involvement on your part.

  4. March 2, 2010 8:22 am

    I think they should make daydreaming a subject. All the great thinkers, writers, scientists daydream. If they didn’t they would come up with great ideas.

  5. March 2, 2010 9:54 am

    Love it… I so used to be that little girl – and I’m definitely a daydreamer to this day.

    Maybe those of you with 7 year olds should start renting them to those of us who don’t have them anymore so we can all have little gurus now and then :).

    Too bad I don’t have a real table I can go lie under… hmm.. Swings might be a good replacement (plus, I did just buy those bubbles!)…


  6. Dovelily permalink
    March 2, 2010 1:00 pm

    I loved this post! I love how you encourage your daughter to daydream. It is so good for the mind and spirit to let the imagination fly wherever it likes. Maddie will have many happy memories of her mommy’s encouraging support to carry into her adulthood and someday as a mom herself. That’s a win-win-win…for the generations!

  7. March 2, 2010 8:07 pm

    What a wonderful post…and you, such a wonderful mother!

    It is encouraging to let ourselves remember the Wonder that is inherent in life. There is nothing like a little daydreaming or a hidden world under the table to bring that out. I’m trying to let my kiddos be my teacher in this area.

    Absolutely inspiring to know of someone ENCOURAGING daydreaming!

  8. March 13, 2010 7:45 pm

    amen to letting a child’s mind be just that.

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