Dreams shape children’s futures

By Clyde Davis: Local columnist

Sometimes the world is best seen through the eyes of a child, where the world of wonder is still all encompassing, where the harsh limits of reality have not yet begun to intrude into one’s life space. Such a view is still capable of believing, for example, in a magical rabbit who delivers chocolate, and I, for one, do not believe that this interferes with a child’s spiritual development at all.

On the contrary, it may actually add to that development, enabling the more reasoned admittance of miracles whereby Christians accept that the Christ arose from the tomb, or the Jews place faith in the Exodus based events of the Passover.

Be that as it may, I have a granddaughter who actually and still realizes that a rabbit delivers eggs and chocolates, and who is becoming more fully aware of the realness of Jesus the Christ. One does not interfere with the other, to my observation.

Her world of belief does not end there, and she uses her imagination in amazing ways to help her make sense of life.

Last summer, she explained her growing ability to swim, and overcoming her fear of water, by theorizing that she must be turning into a mermaid. The assistance of her brother, who was visiting for the summer and who knew exactly when to tease and when to cajole, did not seem to enter into the equation, for her.

It’s my belief that a great many mermaids have been created with the help of older brothers who knew how to alternate negative and positive reinforcement.

She also has an interesting theory about the shark’s tooth necklace which my grandson, who lives in Florida, picked out and bought as a gift for me last summer, with my money. {Isn’t that what 9-year-olds do?} She posits that Jason went on into the water, caught the shark and ripped out its tooth for Granddad.

My position is, if he could, he would. So in a sense, it’s true.

We could apply the same anthropological sense of myth(a story containing a deeper truth, which may or may not be literal) to Mikayla’s view of animals. Most children, her brothers included, love animals. Few children would hurt an animal, or see it hungry or homeless. (Yes, I believe cruelty is made, not born).

My granddaughter, however, Loves animals, with a capital L. She explains this by instructing us in the reality — that she can, with great effort, turn herself into any kind of animal which she chooses, even a snake or a dinosaur.

Time will pass, and magic will move out of her life. She may, given her empathies, enter an animal related field, but she will realize, someday, that she is not a shapeshifter, just as my grandson realized, gradually, that he may well become a policeman but was not likely to become a superhero.

Our childhood dreams shape our adult realities. Let’s, then, allow our children to dream as long, and as fruitfully as possible, and make futures out of the malleable dreams they form.