We’re talking about colors right now. I’m sitting on the bathroom rug and she’s in the bathtub.
“What’s your favorite color, Mom?” she asks in this crystal clear little voice. As I start to answer, she whispers the color she wants me to say. I declare loudly “MY FAVORITE COLOR IS PIN…” and before I can finish saying the “k” sound, a tiny whisper says “no mommy, it’s green!” I quickly correct myself loudly. “MY FAVORITE COLOR IS GREEN!” We do a few more rounds of this game. PURPLE! (no, blue!) BLUE! (no, teal!) I MEAN TEAL!! (yes, she’s four and loves the color teal)
I wonder what she does in school all day? From one activity to the next, I get snippets of reports on the way home. “I played Legos and dollhouse with Maddie and Lily! Then I do library and sand table and kitchen with Olivia and Gracie.” I love picturing these little groupings of friends. How big her little classroom must seem to her at this age!
Her daily world is so small. But at the same time, it’s enormous. Expansive. Endless. It’s pretty similar to mine, really. Or any of us. Our mundane tasks get done while our minds wander. I ring up customers while I tell myself fictitious stories about their lives. I read and answer monotonous emails while thinking about my next short story. Or that trip to Dutch Wonderland we hope to take.
Not much in this world is more exciting than the imagination of a four year old. Miriam mixes “witch’s soup” with her green spoon in her watering can in the bathtub. She creates rescue missions with her stuffed animals in the slats of her headboard. She pretends to eat the Play-Doh spaghetti she makes nightly.
Our inner dialogue vs. the inner dialogue of a child can’t be too different, can it? We try to control our world internally while it assaults us externally. We stir up excitement in our minds as we go through our daily routine. I learn so much from Miriam. How every moment is the opportunity for magic. Imagination. Daydreams.
I have this game I play with myself when I go to the bank drive-thru. (The uber friendly bank that prides itself on personal customer service) I send my cylinder filled with a deposit slip and ID into the tube. The teller greets me with a giant smile through the glass and calls me by my first name over and over through the intercom. It’s excessive but strangely pleasant.
“Will that be all today, Erica?”
“Are twenties ok, Erica?”
“Have a great weekend, Erica!”
I pretend I’m a famous movie star, depositing royalty checks. My appearance in the drive-thru makes this teller’s day. I live in this little town in New Jersey because I’m humble and simple despite being world famous and rich. I’m often seen around town with no makeup. I still drive my 2004 Jeep. I’m down to earth like that.
It’s ridiculous, I know. But it makes me feel special for a few minutes. It makes me wonder what it would be like to be someone else for a little while. It’s just a little harmless fantasy. It’s my inner dialogue having a little fun.
To be four years old with magic everywhere must be incredible! I’m going to harness Miriam’s surplus energy and try to make my small world bigger. Through imagination. Through my inner dialogue. I cheer myself on from the inside while protecting myself on the outside.