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I’m jealous of my daughter’s imagination

I’m jealous of my daughter’s imagination

Occasionally my daughter mentions a place called ‘Ingerland’. At first I thought she was just mispronouncing ‘England’, but it soon became clear that this is a place that she’s made up in her head.

I was desperate to get into her three-year-old brain and find more about her vision of Ingerland, so I started probing her about it.

“Is Ingerland a city?” I asked.

“It’s quite like a city,” she said.

“Is it like Glasgow?”

“No, it’s not like Glasgow. It’s a different city.”

“Is it far from here? Do you have to take a plane, train or bus to get there?”

“No, it’s not that far. It’s pretty close.”

“Who lives there?”

“There’s a black guy called Jackson.”

“Jackson? What does he do?”

“He wrote some of our books.”

“What books?”

“Like the hungry caterpillar one, the ankylosaurus one and the tyrannosaurus one. He wrote all of those.”

“Is he a nice guy?”

“Yeah, he’s nice.”

“Who else lives in Ingerland?”

“The guy from Video Killed the Radio Star. He built this city on rock and roll.”

“Anyone else? Are there any girls there?”

“There are some girls and there are also some boys.”

“What do people do in Ingerland?”

“I’m going to go play blocks now.”

So that was that. All I really know about Ingerland is that it’s a city inhabited by a children’s book author and Trevor Horn from The Buggles. That’s pretty weird as far as imaginary worlds go, but I can’t help but be a bit jealous of her.

See, when I was a kid I desperately wanted an imaginary friend. I must have seen a TV show or film where a child had an imaginary friend, and I wanted in on some of the action. I remember standing in my backyard, trying to conjure up a friend for myself. I willed myself to see them standing in front of me, the best and funnest friend of all time. And I just…couldn’t.

Even as a child, at peak anything-is-possible-if-you-believe-in-it time, I was still too practical to convince myself that I had a friend who didn’t exist. I stopped believing in Santa when I was pretty young too. There were a lot of Jewish kids in my class who didn’t celebrate Christmas, which didn’t mesh well with the whole, ‘Santa brings toys to all the good girls and boys in the world’ narrative. Plus Santa and my dad had the same handwriting. Don’t even get me started on the Easter Bunny – that guy never made sense to me. I really wanted to believe in magic and make-believe, but I was too logical.

At times, it felt like failure.

I love that my daughter is open to the possibility of imaginary worlds, even if her worlds are vaguely-defined cities full of 80s pop stars and writers. I hope she doesn’t start overthinking everything as she gets older and holds onto the magic – and yes, the weirdness – for as long as she can. Long live Ingerland!

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