Saturday, November 17, 2012

A person's a person, no matter how small

Remember the movie Men in Black? Do you remember the animation at the end, in which Earth is just a marble bouncing in a larger creature's hands?

I took the girls to see Seussical at Imagination Stage tonight. It's largely based on the book Horton Hears a Who with a Cat in the Hat narrator and some Green Eggs and Ham song lyrics. Somehow, E knew the Horton story but L didn't.

So there's Horton here in this photo, and Gertrude the bird, and Whoville on a clover. L called it a pink dandelion and was enchanted with the idea of a whole planet of people too small to be seen.

Coincidentally, she and I are in the middle of the Flat Stanley series of books right now and we're currently reading Stanley in Space. In that volume, Stanley and his family fly to outer space to rescue an alien people who are just inches tall.

It's all she could talk about on the way home, the Whos of Whoville who were too small to be seen, and the Tyrrans from Flat Stanley, and I told the girls about the end of Men in Black.

They have great imaginative belief. I was with E at a birthday party a few weeks ago where one of the girls was telling a mocking story about her younger sister who still believes in unicorns. I engaged E in conversation so she couldn't listen. E still believes in unicorns. They believe in fairies. They believe in wishing on stars. They believe in the possibility of that which we cannot see.

So L asked as we approached our car in the public garage: can there really be people so small we can't see them?  I answered her the way I answer everything from this genre: "I haven't seen them, but that doesn't mean it's not possible, right?"

Anything is possible.

Imagination validates little kids who have so much they can't understand. And Horton, who sings again and again,

a person's a person, no matter how small

he's an ambassador for all of childhood.

I think my girls are behind the curve on the outgrowing-imagination scale, and it delights me. Certainly we've carefully limited their exposure to bigger-kid media, and certainly we encourage imagination, but I'm sad that other six-year-olds can laugh with scorn at the mere thought of believing in unicorns.

I think one of the most charming responsibilities of motherhood is playing caretaker to imagination.

Photo credit: Margot Schulman for Imagination Stage.
Disclosure: Imagination Stage provided our tickets tonight. They didn't ask me to write about the night. 

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