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Just Imagine

Story ID:2590
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Family Memories
Writers Conference:$500 2007 Family Memories Writing Project
Location:Fort Lee New Jersey USA
Person:My Family
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Just Imagine

Ginny and I married in May of 2004. In the process, I gained
a new son, daughter and four grandsons - instant grandpa. I met
my new son, Brandon, a few months before we married., but I never
had the chance to meet Ginny's daughter, Heather, and Heather's
three small boys.

Over the July 4th holiday of 2005, I got to meet them for
the first time. Heather, separated from her husband. She needed
a place to stay. Ginny and I flew to Oklahoma to drive them back
to New Jersey to live with us.

It took a day for my new grandsons to warm up to me. The
first day they stared at me, wondering what they were suppose to
do with this man, who they were told is "grandpa." I waited
patiently. I knew boys like to play. They'd come to me in their
own time.

On the second day, the oldest two were doing summersaults
over my lap. The youngest, Ben, took a little longer, but a few
days later he raced me across the yard thirty times and won the
race every time.

That weekend brought back memories of my own childhood. We
had such imaginations. In our minds: a tree was a tower to spot
approaching bad guys; a big rock became mountain; a fallen log
was a space ship, headed to the stars. We had toys, but we
had to use our minds, not like the new toys I see my grandkids
with. Our toys didn't talk. If they did, you pulled a string to
make it work. We had blocks to build, crayons to create, and
trucks and cars to push. They were simple toys that required

I thought about the toys in my garage, the ones my children
outgrew. They're simple and needed their imagination to work.
"Mr. Potato Head" allowed them to learn the parts of the body
and giggle at the funny face with an ear where it's mouth should

I still have an old plastic phone. It has a dial to turn,
a bell that rings when you push a button, and that's it. It
doesn't talk, squawk, beep or move around the room. It
was used when they played house, nurse, doctor, and secretary.

I have a toy doctor's bag, with all the plastic doctor's
tools. I remember the broken bones, cuts, bangs, scratches and
aches my daughter repaired, as I lay in her office moaning.

Toys today do it all. Kids don't need imagination. It comes
in a box. There are videogames that take us into other worlds;
talking toys, with vocabularies better than most people; and
computerized toys to teach the alphabet. Kids sit and have
imagination brought to them. The teaching toys are great, but
children tire of them. It's like being in school.

When my son was young and tired of his toys, he'd come to
me, "Dad, I'm bored."

"Go find something to do." I'd replied.

"I don't know what to do."

"Go outside and find a friend."

"Naaa! I don't want to do that."

"Use your imagination."

"Huh?" What do you mean?" he asked.

"Well, when I was young......" You know the routine.

Sports is the same. We're entertained for hours, watching
someone else have fun, doing what they are good at. Wouldn't it
be better to be playing yourself? If we don't like the sports
available to watch, we create new ones. It doesn't matter what,
people will pay to see it, because they need to be entertained.
I haven't heard of world championship worm digging, but if
someone offered a large cash price, people would buy tickets to
scream at the contestants.

I worry. Are we becoming a society that needs outside
influence to have fun? I think I'll go climb a tree. Maybe
there's pirate ship on the horizon or someone is attacking
my castle.

Just imagine?

Michael T. Smith