Kalel’s young imagination has already kicked in, which is unique compared to Kairo. Though Tiyaanah and I worked to develop his brother’s imagination, Kairo didn’t start pretending until he was almost three years old. Many factors contribute to Kalel’s development, but his best teacher gets all of the credit.
There are four cognitive stages of a child’s development. You can read about them here. Or you can be lazy, like me, and read the short version:
- Learn about the world through senses. (1-2)
- Memory and imagination. (2-7)
- Social and emotional awareness. (7-11)
- Check into the Matrix. (11+)
Imaginations kick in around 19 months, so Kalel is right on time.
Kalel’s imagination first caught me off guard yesterday morning, and he continued to surprise me throughout the day.
Scene: First snack (10 am)
Kalel lies on his belly with a Cherrio stuck to his leg. He looks up at me and smiles before putting his head on the ground.
Kalel: Good night, Daddy.
[I take a step back]
Kalel: [repeats] Good night, Daddy.
Me: [stammering] Good night!
I stepped back because I couldn’t believe that he was using his imagination to play a game with me. Usually, Kalel plays by repeating something that he saw his brother do. For example, Kairo usually pretends to get stuck on the steps and shouts, “Help! Daddy!” and Kalel follows suit.
I wrote about him copying his brother and struggling to find his own identity. You can read about it here.
Seeing Kalel pretend to sleep on the ground was unique because it isn’t something that his brother does. Kalel wasn’t copying actions. He was creating!
Scene: Dinner last night
Kalel chews a tortilla and holds the remains up to his face.
Kalel: Bear. Rawr!
Mommy: Did you say bear?
The importance of young imagination
I don’t remember having imaginary friends as a kid. I remember playing with my toys, but I was always disappointed in how limited they were. As a child, I would rather sit down and imagine an entire world than to play with action figures. Moving the objects in my mind was more fulfilling.
If you ever wondered how I became a writer, you just got the answer.
We each use our imaginations differently, but I want my kids to act theirs out, so I can join them. Interacting with their young imagination and creations allows me to develop their internal dialogue, creativity, confidence, and humor. We get to laugh and expand upon one another’s thoughts. When we create, we work as a team, threading together pieces of a story that we all enjoy.
I love this part of my job.