As a child, I imagined plenty of adventures and scenarios.
Some days I’d hop on my bed, tie the bonnet I got at the Laura Ingalls Wilder home under my chin, plant a chair (or in my imagination’s eye, a horse) in front of me, and ride away in my Conestoga wagon down the Oregon trail.
Some days I’d dig out my sister’s pink plastic teapot (a.k.a. a genie’s lamp), set it on the windowsill at the bottom of the stairs, then go back upstairs and tiptoe down into the Cave of Wonders, Aladdin-style.
Some days I crawl around for hours, until the heels of my hands and my knees were rubbed pink and raw, pretending to be White Fang or Sham (the horse from Marguerite Henry’s “King of the Wind”).
But many days, my imagination and play centralized on a common theme: adulthood.
I would pull out dolls and pretend to be a mother. I’d assemble all the dogs in my Beanie Baby collection and be a contestant showing my award-winning cocker spaniel in a dog show. I would line up more dolls in a row and pretend to be a teacher, or go outside to our basketball hoop and imagine myself as a coach. I even spent my allowance on a pack of index cards once so I could go home, stick one card in every book I owned, and be a librarian for an afternoon, loaning out books and stamping due dates on the cards.
Each day, I imagined a new scenario. I piloted airplanes and spacecraft, navigated ships, explored the Antarctic and deserted islands. In my mind, adulthood was adventurous and glamorous and free.
In childhood, I had more careers in a week than a person could have in a lifetime. None of those daydreams included balancing checkbooks, paying bills, commuting, doing dishes, putting away laundry (my least favorite chore) …
As an adult, I’ve settled into the routine of the many less-than-glamorous aspects of adulthood. (The latest one being tax preparation … oh frabjous day.) But there’s still some residual adulthood daydreams jangling around in my mind. As much as I love being a journalist and independent children’s author, I often find myself daydreaming about getting a master’s degree in children’s literature and becoming a full-time author. But wouldn’t it be more fun to work in a library? Then again, I visualize myself more as a small business owner, running a secondhand book shop downtown. Except I want to be a grade school teacher instead.
Romanticizing careers and imagining myself in those roles is still part of everyday life. (Although I don’t act them out with dolls or index cards in books anymore … but every once in a while you’ll catch me carrying on a conversation with an imaginary person.) There are days I catch myself in the midst of these daydreams and wonder, “Will I ever stop imagining adulthood and just settle into being an adult?”
And my internal reply is always the same.
I hope not.