The importance of nurturing childish imagination

A Journal Entry.

We are so quick to forget the ways of our childhood, when it was knocking on doors and talking to parents. Asking if so-and-so was available for some harmless playtime in the woods with spray cans, lighters, penknives and sunshine. The sun is back, like summers almost forgotten, but the sunshine evokes sights and smells of sitting under trees and hanging around in graveyards. She was gone then, too. But, it was a different type of gone because the loneliness has always been the same, you know, ever since the world changed forever. When I was young the world was all-too confusing. I played alone, a lot. It was just me, my list of superhero cars, gadgets and weapons, and as long as I had that list on me I was equipped to fight all the ninjas that periodically emerged in my back garden that had to be fought to the death. And I never lost. I beat them every time. And if I wasn’t fighting ninjas I was building bases for my G.I. Joes at the bottom of the birch tree at the end of the grass, next to the fence and the fern trees and the plum tree that hung over like a fruity awning that Mum would often have me scrump from for little purple treats. I would lie in the dirt on the floor, muddying up the knees of my threadbare jeans imaging battle scenarios where many good men would lay down their lives for the sake of the better good – my wars were tragic and painful, loves would be lost, hearts broken, bonds of friendship severed forever. But, within a day the world would right itself, like some kind of multi-verse anomaly where each day the fancies of a child would spiral off into space and create many worlds where I would always be a child acting out all of those valiant war-games.

Come inside, nobody is home. It’s just me cutting onions at age 13 attempting to cook myself dinner with sputtering fat-fryer all caked in a disgusting residue of matter that would be cleaned periodically, but you always remember it as the machine that was covered in greasy little pieces of chips – not the super clean white obelisk that it was when it got cleaned. You remember the negative over the positive, not only in inanimate objects, but in everyday life people’s actions make them who they are, their incentives, well-wishes and kind words are nothing but what they are suggested to be – suggestions. As children we aspire to be things, to have noble professions as civil servants, or fighting fires, or tackling crime or working with the under-privileged. As kids we wanted to be like our heroes, follow in their super-booties with flowing red capes or in my case, their abilities to do anything other than what I was destined to be.

My house was robbed as a child, not long prior to losing my father, not like a set of keys – no. The cancer got him. My Mum sent the robbers a thank-you card when they were convicted because our insurance money meant we could live beyond our means. We pretended to have money, I guess there were countless loans, credit cards and re-mortgages that happened when I was too young to understand the economics of raising a family on your own. So I stuck to making my own food when Mum was working and my brother was out getting into as much trouble a teenager can get into without being arrested. Fat fryer frying chips, chopping onions for something I can’t remember right now, but I remember chopping onions, hundreds of onions. Even today there is a strange childhood connection that has something to do with onions, something about the way I chop them maybe – nobody taught me to chop onions. A girl at a party my brother once threw tried to teach me how to cut onions properly. But, she was functioning on some upper-drug and was telling me to run it under scalding hot water. So I showed her how it was done properly – cut the ends off, chop it in half, peel away the outer-layer of skin, Julienne close to the edge, spin 90 degrees and chop, chop, chop against the knuckle with the thumb tucked back. Perfectly diced onions – at 13 with no formal training I can remember. I don’t remember her reaction right now, probably because I just wanted the shit-faced interloper to leave me alone – like I wanted everybody to leave me alone when they were twisted on all manner of narcotics trying to converse with an introverted and damaged young boy. I don’t want to cultivate around the Rhododendrons – Mamma was away a lot trying to provide for her two boys – demanding, irrational, angry, mentally unstable boys. Maybe it’s incorrect to tar my brother with the mentally unstable brush. For sure I was. But, my brother was a quiet being, still is. A sleeping giant you could say.

I hit him once – my brother, opened handed with my right palm, he was choking me because I had stolen his phone; this was when phones were still quite a novelty and a recognisable polyphonic ring-tone gave a teenager the respect he so badly wanted from his peers. I digress, I hit him because he was choking me and my girlfriend was stood behind the frosted glass of the front door banging erratically on the window because she could hear the commotion from within. I was staring into his eyes asking him to choke me to death; a bit morbid I know, but you know how teenagers like to make a scene – molehills and mountains and all. The irony being the girlfriend at the door didn’t really care – she was fucking someone behind my back. She had just come by to show me that she had died her hair brown – she was a stunning blonde, she hated the brown. Wanted it changed back immediately. I really liked it, but I’ve always preferred darker hair on girls. The blonde ones always make me break my own heart. There have been three blondes, one unique, two related, and they’re all the ones that linger when a man thinks about how he could have made better decisions in his life. When a man thinks about how things could have been, you know, when you beat yourself up for no reason at all just so you can go outside with a solemn expression and hope somebody notices your sour face and offers their condolences – it never happens does it.

This mental instability thing; it’s haunted me for 22 years. You see, when my old man died I didn’t really know him, I was only 9, and if you factor in how old I was when he died, then subtract the amount of time we spent together when I was an incoherent, yet functioning human being, the amount you are left with is really minimal at best. He was a successful man with a thriving engineering business that built flooring for offices that have plug-sockets built right into the floor – you’ve probably seen them if you work in an office. Next time you see one give a thought to my old man – he invented them. You can Google it and it will give you a completely different story, but whom would you rather believe in this instance? A poor, helpless young boy who aspired to be just like his hero – the genius engineer, or some patent. I’ll let you decide. I remember when the prototype was first unveiled, back in the early eighties, I was in my dad’s workshop with an Atat Walker, the Millennium Falcon and action figurines of all the most important idols of the day – Han, Luke, Chewy, R2 and a few Ewoks thrown in for good measure. There was a fat little guy, hairy, full beard, I guess he looked like an Ewok now that I think about it, maybe he was, maybe he was an attaché of the ninjas, you just cant be sure these days.

I think back on these days and I can’t help but realise that although my parents did everything in their power to make my upbringing as harmless and normal as they could, there was a child unheard within me, that still resides there to this day longing for the understanding, nurturing and love that is instrumental in the mental well-being of every human being on this planet. If we are not nurtured as children or encouraged to become what our imaginations wish us to be we are destined for a life of servitude as automatons in the production line of life. Unless we listen to our inner-child we will never truly flourish as the spiritual beings we were always destined to be. We are forced to endure and participate in an out-dated teaching structure that was only good for Victorian Britons destined to serve an Empire in clerical positions – reading and writing in savage lands. Unless we embrace the creativity of children and praise them for their strengths and never chastise them for their lack of understanding of out-dated and rudimentary socio-economic ideals, the future of creative minds will be in serious jeopardy.

If a child likes to dance – let them dance, if a child likes to draw – let them draw, if a child likes to write stories – let them write, if a child has a lot of energy, do not put them on pharmaceutical drugs, DO NOT drug your children. I was never drugged as a child, and my depressive, rage-induced moments of mania are nothing to be studied in order to have me locked away. A very wise man once told me that without my depression I would not be the person I am today. That man was David Russell, founder of A Child Unheard Ltd. We must remember that the most creative minds in history had troubled childhoods – look it up.

We must nurture young minds if we want to thrive as Earthlings.

3 thoughts on “The importance of nurturing childish imagination

Add yours

  1. Amazing Nils…not at all like the young boy I remember..but I guess we all need to look inside others as things are never as they seem. You are inspirational and certainly made me think did I do the right thing as a parent ? Probably not there are no manuals for raising children but all we can do is try our best and muddle through…you have grown into a lovely young man proud to have been a tiny little part of your life .

    1. Thank you Mandy. That really means a lot.

      I think you had more of an impact on my life than you realise. You taught me a lot. There aren’t many people who have the privilege of making life-long friends with parents as down to earth as you.

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