What Happened to Imagination?
Yesterday was a fun day. My oldest daughter and her girls, with me in tow, drove to Washington, D.C. to meet up with my youngest daughter and her 5-year old (today)who drove from Philadelphia. We went to the American Girl Doll store to celebrate her birthday.
We arrived around 1:00 for a lunch reservation at 1:15. It was crowded, and noisy, with little girls clutching their dolls, mothers looking harried, fathers quietly enduring as they pulled out their wallets and grandparents looking bemused. I was somewhat surprised as many of the girls at a nearby table pulled out their own iPhones to take photos of each other!
We were on a budget and I must admit with 3 little girls in tow I was very proud that there wasn’t a lot of “I wants” and I am quite sure all three that belonged to me would loved to have had one of everything! But they were as good as gold when told they could only have one small item. (My oldest granddaughter already had two dolls, one she sweetly shared with her sister.) The birthday girl got a few more items including her very own doll.
I was overwhelmed by all that you can buy for your doll – including a spa treatment with skin clarifying mask and cucumber eye discs! You can take your doll to have its hair done and several styles from which to choose. You can buy beds, sheets, matching PJs, a horse and its paraphernalia, a VW Beetle in baby blue…there is no end to the accessories! I saw parents leave the store with huge bags of supplemental items. All had at a rather princely sum.
It seemed to be a happy madhouse. The store had everything down to a marketing science in order to extract as much money from you as they could. And as I looked around, I wondered what message we are giving our young girls. Does “stuff” make us happy? Do young girls need to think about spa treatments? Matching outfits and accessories? A pony? A car? What happened to imagination?
Please don’t get me wrong. I like the wholesomeness of the American Girl Dolls and their accompanying stories – it is refreshing after the nauseating, spoiled sophistication of Barbie. But what happened to imagination and delayed gratification? Let’s hear it for both.
I know things have changed. But when I was young my sister, Anne, and I would imagine an old tree stump as a fairy castle and play for hours. A junior baseball bat became a pony as we galloped through the house. We played “house” in the woods after school with make-believe kitchens and families. We entertained ourselves for hours on end. We were only allowed to watch a few television shows per week. And we had books! Imagine that!
My grandchildren think of me as “old” and ask me if we had telephones when I was a little girl! Yes. We did! We also had imaginations and unhurried time to use them. Being busy, having “stuff” doesn’t give us or our children value. Having integrity, discipline and faith in a loving, holy God is what is important for our young people today. And that goes against our culture. But we need to give our children integrity, strength of character and a knowledge of God found in the person of Jesus.